India’s top smartphone makers are now aggressively eyeing the smart TV category to gain a greater share of the viewing time of users. The move will also help them ink better partnerships with content players because of the end-to-end presence in the screens’ ecosystem.
The initiatives come at a time when telecom service provider Jio made a splash in the fixed-line broadband segment with the launch of feature-rich JioFiber.
JioFiber has tariffs starting at ₹700 a month, with plans offering home security, multiplayer gaming, multiparty video conferencing, virtual shopping and immersive viewing.
Its entry in the under-penetrated wired broadband market is expected to boost growth in the smart home devices category, especially smart TVs.
OnePlus, which leads the premium smartphone segment in India, is expected to launch its first smart TV in September, to help users create a connected home environment. The company revealed the name and logo of the TV last week.
The biggest disruption in India’s smart TV market came early last year when smartphone market leader Xiaomi announced its entry with Mi LED Smart TV 4, a 4K set with a 55-inch frameless display, priced at ₹39,999. The launch was a first by Xiaomi outside China.
Today, Xiaomi sells several TV models in India in the ₹13,999 to ₹49,999 range, and leads the smart TV category with a 39% share of the market. LG is second with a 15% market share, while Sony is third with 14%. Samsung had a 12% share in the first quarter of 2019.
TV is the biggest category for the Chinese consumer electronics company after smartphones.
Huawei, which has been facing the heat of a ban by the US, had last month unveiled a new “smart screen" that was the first product to use its own operating system, HarmonyOS, in China. It will be marketed by its mid-range brand Honor. The smart screen can be integrated with other smart home devices for multi-device interaction and can become the central point of the home Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
“A smart screen isn’t a TV. It is TV’s future. This is a different product. The smart screen got 100,000 bookings in China. We will try to bring this to India soon...we will try to do it this year," said Charles Peng, president, Honor India.
Smartphone makers have also ventured into this segment as they face fewer entry barriers. Micromax was one of the first to enter the TV segment.
“TV is a natural extension for smartphone brands, which aim to grab the maximum share of the user’s viewing time. Content is going to be a major play and presence in the TV segment will enable smartphone makers to forge better partnerships with content players," said Tarun Pathak, associate director, Counterpoint Research.
As much as 80% of all data consumption comes from fixed locations despite the surge in mobile data consumption.
Xiaomi’s success in the TV category shows that these shoppers are not brand seekers, but ones who are looking at the most talked about features in the market bundled into one product.
“Xiaomi and OnePlus are able to capture the market by bundling the latest and the most talked about features in the category at the most accessible price points," said Ritesh Ghosal, chief marketing officer, Croma, Tata group’s electronics retailing brand.
The multi-brand store run by Infiniti Retail Ltd is in talks with both OnePlus and Xiaomi to sell their smart TVs at its stores.
Suneera Tandon contributed to this story.