Growth In India’s Tablet Market Is Being Driven by First-Time Buyers: Interview

India is among the fastest growing markets for smart devices in the world, driven by the massive influx of unconnected masses that now possess the means to get connected.
swipe
Swipe Telecom, a homegrown tablet manufacturer with a focus on disrupting the low-cost smart devices market, claims over 80% of its sales in FY15 will come from first-time tablet buyers.
The company which controls 5.7% of India’s tablet market, is now planning to grow its presence across the country and even overseas.
Swipe raised Rs 30 cr from Kalaari Capital last year, and plans to stick to its innovative approach of slashing development time to bring the latest innovations to consumers.
Sripal Gandhi
Below are the edited excerpts from an exclusive interview with Sripal Gandhi, Founder and CEO of Swipe Telecom:

What’s the size of the overall Tablets market in India?

The tablets market in India has reported a strong quarter-on-quarter growth of 10% for the quarter ended 31 December 2014, according to a latest report from IDC. A total of 0.94 million tablets were shipped in the Q3, 2014 as compared to 0.86 million at a 9 per cent growth over the Q2, 2014.

Which is the most popular price bracket for tablets in India?

Rs. 3,999-6,999 is the most popular price bracket for tablets in the market.

What percentage of Swipe’s sales is made up of first-time tablet/smartphone buyers?

Our reckoning is that more than 80% of our FY15 sales came from first-time buyers.

How are tablets faring in India given the onslaught of large-screen phones?

There is some cannibalization of the tablet market because of larger form-factor devices, but in India, we see substantial growth potential in the Rs. 3,999-6,999 bracket. In this segment, we have seen people preferring tablets over the large-screen phones.

Which platform is winning the tablet war in India? What is their respective share in the market?

It’s an unavoidable truth that most of the buyers tend to focus on the hardware when it comes to buy a new tablet. A high-resolution display, attractive design and powerful core processor tend to dominate a potential buyer’s thoughts long before deciding on the software running on the device.
Android, iOS and Windows 8 all have their own visual appeal. The Android OS is leading due to competitive price points needed to penetrate in India. A Windows-based tablet is still not available at less than Rs 9,999 in India today, hence Windows has less than 7% market share in comparison to iOS’ 18% and Android at over 75%.

Are voice-calling tablets more popular than devices without the feature?

Looking at the consumer preferences, we can say that voice calling is not a primary requirement for most of the people when it comes to tablets. But as phones themselves get bigger and bigger, moving up from a 6”phablet to a 7” tablet isn’t really that big jump.
In 2012-13, Wi-Fi tablets were very popular, but due to the prices of 2G/3G modules coming down, the market has shifted predominantly to calling tablets with SIM slots. Today, 85-90% of Swipe portfolio comprises of calling tablets, but we also make Wi-Fi based tablets to cater to those who want that product.

What is Swipe’s current USP for Tablets?

Our products are conceptualized in India and designed out of our office out of California.  All our products are based in three simple philosophies:
Disruptive Concept: We launched India’s First 3D Tablet and India’s first Co-branded range of devices with MTV
Disruptive Pricing: We introduced India’s first calling tablet at Rs. 4,999, India’s first Wi-Fi tablet at Rs. 3,999
Disruptive Design: We designed India’s slimmest tablet and we also designed India’s lightest Intel-Windows tablet and we also launched India’s first kid tablet

What will we see change given the company’s plans for pan-India growth?

Swipe has built an unconventional approach to product development by reducing the design-cycle time to 3-4 weeks flat (compared to 250+ days taken by the established industry giants), which ensures that Swipe can introduce the latest technology to its customers in the shortest possible time.
Product innovation and technology being its core strength, Swipe is poised to retain its leadership position in launching USP-driven offerings. Unlike other companies which have grown from a distribution background, Swipe originally hails from product design/development background with a very solid background in technology and innovation.
Hence in FY15-16, Swipe not only eyeing on solid penetration in India but also targeting to have presence in international markets like SAARC and Middle Eastern Countries.

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