Amazon announces feature phones sale
NEW DELHI: Amazon is holding a sale for featurehones for the first time ever, underlining the continued strong demand for the basic phones in India and the penetration of Internet into semi-urban and rural parts of the country.
The online platform said the segment forms a large share of the Indian handset market and it was therefore addressing customer needs in that segment, which analysts said had only grown in the last few quarters due to the disruption caused by Reliance Retails’ Jiophone.
“Feature phones continue to form the lion’s share, about 52% of the mobile phone market, as per IDC 2017, and are the first mobile device for most customers. At Amazon.in, we are costumer focused and are committed to addressing customer needs across segments,” said Noor Patel, director of category management at Amazon India.
The sale offers specially curated selection with deals and offers on all the leading brands including Nokia, Samsung, Micromax, Jio Phone, Intex and Karbonn. Patel added that over the last year, the company has aggressively expanded its mobile phones selection to cover every type of customer at every price point, including premium smartphones from Apple, Samsung & LG to feature phones by Jio, Karbonn and Intex.
Analysts added that Reliance Jio had expanded the feature phone segment, which was still a huge market that was catering to a diverse user base, many of whom continue to buy and use the devices in preference to smartphones. The reasons for adherence to feature phones are as diverse as the user base, but include preference for simplicity, light and longer battery life for factor at lower cost.
“The key factor behind the surge of feature phones was the JioPhone which saw its shipments grow more than five-fold in end-2017, surpassing Samsung at the top. The other key factor is KaiOS, that has infused smart features in the feature phones,” said PrabhuRam, head-industry intelligence group at CyberMedia Research (CMR).
“For an e-commerce platform like Amazon, it is logical to cash in on this wave for feature phones while it lasts,” he added.
As per CMR, the feature phone market in India saw a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 62% in 2017, while in the quarter ended December 2017, 4G feature phones grew a massive 546%. The market for feature phones is being driven both by rural India as well as consumers in tier-1 cities, who use it as companion phones.
Amazon’s move can be seen as an experiment or an attempt to gauge the demand from this segment for online purchase, said Navkendar Singh, associate research director at International Data Corporation (IDC) India. “They can learn what works, and how can the demand be generated… once demand is unlocked for this segment, the upside is huge due to high volumes which come with this segment.”
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