Alcatel is entering the Indian mobile phone market in a big and phased
manner. To this effect, it has entered into a distribution arrangement with
Agrani Convergence, wherein Agrani would be the sole national distributor of
Alcatel handsets, at least for the time being. Alcatel handsets are currently
available in the vendor-neutral Agrani retail outlets. The distribution wing of
Agrani would take care of the channel network in India.
Mohit Kapoor, Country Manager, Mobile Phone Division (south west Asia),
Alcatel said, “There will be some surprises from our side.” Comes September,
and Alcatel has plans to introduce high-end handsets in the Indian market, a
slight deviation from the Alcatel strategy of being rather low-end,
feature-packed handset markets.
Alcatel India is also drifting from the core competency of the parent company
in that Alcatel France’s major focus has so far been the operator-driven
markets. This sudden shift is based entirely on the dynamic market model,
explained Kapoor. “In Europe for example, like we sell switches, we bundle our
handsets with the operators. But in India, the market is still evolving. It was
an operator driven market, but now it is a pure distribution model, and we have
to adapt accordingly”
But given the fact that the mobile handset market in India has already taken
off, where does a late entrant like Alcatel feature? Kapoor said, “Our
handsets have been available in the market for quite some time now. With Agrani,
penetration is expected to move north. And we are #1 in Sri Lanka and within the
top three players elsewhere, as far as the south west Asia market is concerned.
In India also it should be a matter of time when we will be in the top three
slots. It is also interesting to note that Alcatel has a neutral perception in
the market, compared to some of the other players who have had managed a
negative image for themselves.
“Pricing has been deliberately kept low–beginning from Rs 7,500 and going
upto Rs 20,000. We have to understand that the grey market is tremendously
active in India. Our marketing strategy is therefore to decrease the price
differential between the grey and the legal market, thereby making much more
sense for the consumer to go in for a Alcatel product, at a price slightly
higher than the grey market variants.”
Kapoor is confident that the company is very strongly focused on the handset
division, and going by his earlier comment it is Diwali time for Alcatel now.