Indian smartphone market may reach China’s size in 3-5 years, says Lau Cos

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NEW DELHI: It’s the era of dominance of Chinese smartphones in India, and the hold of the dragon seems to be strengthening with each passing year.

Pete Lau, founder of OnePlus which is one of the group companies of BBK Electronics that also controls giants Vivo and Oppo, said that the key to survival of Indian homegrown brands is to have products based on innovation and local-market needs. Lau, who has launched the OnePlus 5 device, feels that the size of the Indian market may come within striking distance of the Chinese market in the next 3-5 years. Excerpts:

The Chinese brands have been going strong in India and today account for over 50% of sales here. Do you think this trend will continue?
In a matter of around two years, the strength of Chinese companies in India will become clearer. Only those companies will survive here who make quality of product a priority. However, marketshares are not led by nationalities and thus for every brand, there will be opportunities and risks.Competition in the Indian smartphone market is intense and this is even more apparent when you look at brands such as Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi, Gionee and Huawei. How do you see the business case here?

 Let me tell you, competition in India is still not as fierce as it is in China. As a strategy , we pay less attention to what rivals do, but rather focus more on product quality and innovation.
 The Indian government wants companies to invest in India as part of the `Make in India’ strategy. What are your plans on this front?

We are already sourcing me of our products from a some of our products from a third-party supplier here.The journey towards a full-fledged manufacturing operation will be steady , but slow. In future, we intend to have local manufacturing for more and more products.In the intervening period, we plan to hire Indian talent as we expand our local office here. As far as the eco-system for manufacturing here is concerned, we are seeing a lot of Chinese suppliers coming and investing in India.

How do you see the growth of smartphones in India, when compared to the Chinese market? Can we become as large as China?

The Indian market is one of the most high-potential markets globally. In future, we forecast that it may move closer in size to the Chinese market. We expect that in the next 3-5 years, the size of the Indian smartphone market will grow to 400 million annually from the existing 120 million. On the other hand, Chinese phone market will be around 450 million in the same period.