Budget tablets gaining popularity in India

The Tablet PC market in India is dominated by the likes of global IT giants Apple and Samsung. However, homegrown tablet makers from Noida are creating waves with their affordable products grabbing their share in the pie bit by bit.

Prominent tablet makers based out of Noida include Zync Global, Pantel Technologies, HCL Infosystems, Datawind and Spice. All of them have successfully launched their affordable versions of low-cost Tablets in the range of Rs 3,000 to 12,000 at the cost of a mobile phone.

“With heavyweights like Samsung, Apple in the industry, there still is 80 per cent of the market left untapped,” says Ashish Garg, director, Zync Global. “We moved in to get a share of the market by delivering products to people and firms who are looking for an advanced technology at an affordable range.”

Noida players

Zync Global, the tablet maker from Noida, entered the market in 2011 and sold 100,000 units within its first year itself and is targeting Rs 300 crore turnover this year. “For us, growth rate in terms of sales has been over 100 per cent every quarter and so, from first year itself we have started earning profits and putting it back to develop our services and business,” says Garg of Zync.

A similar strategy is being employed by Suneet Singh Tulli, CEO of Datawind that manufactures Aakash and Ubislate tablets. “Our basic objective was to reposition tablets as anyone’s first computer instead of a sophisticated alternate to smartphones and laptops.”

HCL Infosystems, India’s premier IT firm, also entered the low-cost tablet market with ME series and MyEdu Tab catering to retail customers, corporate, SMEs and the education sector.

“We have been a long-standing local player and have studied Indian consumer behaviour closely. Tablets that will gain ground in the market are the ones that provide relevance – like localised applications or an extensive service support – and are an absolute value for money,” emphasised Gautam Advani, EVP & Head-Mobility, HCL Infosystems.

Tablet maze

Zync Global was the company to bring 4.0 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich or Android 4.0 developed by Google) in India with its Z-990 series models. “We bought the lowest priced calling/GPRS/Bluetooth tablet Z-999 Plus to India. The company will invest Rs 150 crore this year on research and development, inventory and supply chain management,” says Garg.

Amritsar-based Datawind, with its major production unit in Noida, had first launched Aakash tablets in a tie-up with the government of India in October 2011. Following its success, this year it came out with its first commercial tablet, the Ubislate series. It runs on android, equipped with Ubisurfer browser, delivering internet via GPRS.

Tap for numbers

“The potential growth rate of affordable tablet market in India will be over 200 per cent for next few years,” says Tulli. “I am sure in the coming years there’ll be a shift from high-end to affordable dominated market. Our order bookings for Ubislate series are already in six-figures.”

The latest entrant in the block is Pantel Technologies, which launched ‘Penta’ a few months back. The Penta T-Pad works as a personal entertainment device with some unique features like ‘all-port’ architecture. It can work as a full computing device.

“We have special products for the student community that comes pre-loaded with relevant course material for school level, competitions and professional courses. Our target consumer is everyone, who wishes value for his money, who wishes to connect on the move and who wishes to experience the world-class technology,” Vijender Singh, managing director of Pantel Technologies.

Markets everywhere

All these local players going for the affordable segment are primarily targeting students and individuals in the 16-24 age group and young working professionals and senior executive professionals in the 30-40 age group. Apart from retail customers, their revenues streams also include B2B (business to business) vertical.

“Although education sector is our primary revenue earner but our application in customer relationship and sales automation have helped us get large corporate and SME clients in BFSI, pharma and retail sectors,” says Tulli of Datawind.

For Zync Global, SMBs have been the main drivers in the B2B segment. Over 80 per cent of the business comes from SMBs-education, retail and hospitality but B2C (business to customer) to B2B is nearly 60:40.

“Large corporate clients are yet to warm up to the idea of budget tablets. A few of them have done business with us when a specific requirement of theirs could be fulfilled because of our special features like option to connect pen drives, keyboards and other certain peripheral,” Garg of Zync Global further added.

In case of HCL, with a wide clientele to cater to, it has kept its focus more towards the education sector. “We have seen strong interests among institutes for adopting digital solutions as a part of their learning ecosystem. Currently, we are in the process of partnering with more than 30 institutes across India for MyEduTab,” says Gautam Advani.

Pantel Technologies has been targeting retail customers and SMBs in healthcare, entertainment and social sectors. “The SMB segment is only just now realising the potential of this device for their business. We are soon going to launch a series of road shows to highlight the suite of applications available for this segment to encourage them to invest in the Tablet PC technology,” says Vijender Singh.

City special

When it comes to the key markets generating business revenue, tier-I cities consisting largely the top eight metros are the drivers. Delhi-NCR and Mumbai contribute over 30 per cent. However, tier-II and III cities are fast catching up with lots of queries pouring in from these markets.

“Tier-I cities consume the majority of tablet shipments. This is primarily because as per the initial rollout of 3G, connection is restricted to tier-I cities. This need is yet to mature in most of the tier-II and III cities. Nevertheless the demand from tier-II and III markets is bound to augment in near future,” says Advani from HCL.

However, for Zync it is the southern and eastern regions performing really well. “I feel that metros are not comfortable with the concept of affordable tablets. But, I am sure in coming years, Delhi-NCR will become its key market,” says Ashish.

Along with the domestic market, these local players are selling the affordable-tablet concept to other emerging markets, primarily Latin America, Africa and some South-East Asian nations. Pantel Technologies has its own subsidiary in New Zealand for the Australasian region and is now focusing on the African markets. HCL has recently tied up with a partner in Qatar to offer Laptops, desktops and tablets in the country and is in talks with other Middle-East nations.

According to players the major growth drivers have been the nascent stage of the tablet market in India along with the increasing accessibility to internet facilities in smaller towns and cities. The concept of customised hi-tech tablets at affordable rates in this tech-savvy price-sensitive market is the key. The only challenge is the consumer psyche, namely matching the right expectations with the right price.
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