Sunday, 9 December 2012

Low-cost tablets from HCL, Beetel

When little-known tablet maker Zync Global started selling its first 7-inch device in November last year, director AnujGarg realized his big customers were not in the metros but in smaller towns and cities. And he faced some peculiar problems. "We would get calls for even the most basic inquiries, for instance, 'how do you switch it on?'," he says.While the Delhi-based company claims to have sold about 100,000 tablets, mostly in the sub- Rs 5,000 segment, Garg admits that low-cost tablets are not exactly flying off shelves.
Multiple research agencies tracking the Indian tablet market say Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry hold anywhere between 80% and 90% of the Indian market, even though it's raining low-cost tablets with a new device entering the market every second day, at least for the last couple of weeks.
So far, Indian challengers such as HCL, Beetel, OliveTab, Aakash, Acer, Reliance Communications and BSNL have not been able to make a significant mark in the tablet market, despite prices starting as low as Rs 3,000.
Analysts blame it on poor quality of products, lack of free public wi-fi hotspots, low uptake of 3G connections and little clutter-breaking differentiations.
Also, the worldwide craze for tablets has yet to reflect in India.
"One of the big challenges which tablets are facing (in India) is the uncertainty in consumers' mind about the usage of these devices," says Vishal Tripathi, principal analyst at Gartner India.
Voice & Data estimates that about 800,000 tablets, worth 1,962 crore, were sold in India in 2011-12. This was a huge 749% jump year-on-year, but just a fraction of the 65 million tablets sold globally.

Urban consumers, who buy tablet as an additional fun device to support smartphone and laptop, have mostly preferred iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab because of their superior product quality, user interface and ever-growing bank of apps. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has amassed about one-tenth of the tablet market largely due to massive cuts in the retail price of its PlayBook.
As a result, many local challengers have been struggling to stay in the game.
Beetel Teletech, which launched Magiq brand of tablets with much fanfare in September last for Rs 9,999, has stopped making tablets.
Executives privy to the developments say the Bharti Enterprises' company had changed its strategy and would only focus on offering products for the enterprise market in the future. But some say that the advent of tablets priced much lower than Beetel's instigated the company to move away from tablets.
Beetel did not respond to ET's query asking the reasons for this decision.

So, why are Indian companies-from handset makers Micromax, Karbonn Mobiles, Zen Mobiles and Wishtel to peripheral-makers Go Tech Digital and Alphabetics Computer Services-still rushing to the tablet market?
Because of its huge potential.
Frost & Sullivan expects the Indian tablet market to 23.38 million units by 2017, with sales doubling every year starting 2011. Even a conservative projection by ABI Research pegs the tablet market at 9.66 m units by 2017.


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