Like Xiaomi, OnePlus, the other Chines smartphone maker Gionee has decided to go upstream in the battle of smartphones unleashed in India since their entry last year.
As is the case with Xiaomi, Gionee too is gripped with the reality of multiplying market demand in India for budget smartphones. Planning to sell up to 8 million units this year, Gionee is, however, not focusing on sales strategy alone but also on research and development, perhaps following the OnePlus strategy.
“We have a dedicated team of 12 people… plan to ramp this up and have about 30 highly skilled people as part of the team by the end of the year,” Gionee President William Lu told PTI recently.
Currently, Gionee has a market share of 4%, which is quite encouraging in view of the massive market that is India for smartphones. “Last year, we sold 4 million devices (in India) and 28 million globally. That is one-seventh of the total sales,” he said.
This year, Gionee is expecting sales of 8 million handsets, becoming one of the top 5 mobile brands in India. India accounts for 20% Gionee revenues. In the quarter Oct-Dec 2014, Gionee shipped 22.5 million to India, he said.
Beyond the confines of sales and R&D, Gionee is focusing on setting up a manufacturing base in India and ahs set aside Rs 300 crore for the next three years. EY (Formerly Ernst & Young) is advising them on Indian market strategy, partners and potential locations for manufacturing bases in India, he said.
“We have already seen two locations. Our head of manufacturing, who takes the final call, is visiting in three weeks. Post that, we will be in a better position to talk about the location,” Gionee India CEO and Managing Director Arvind Vohra told the media recently.
Besides a manufacturing base, Gionee India has doubled its marketing and advertising budget from Rs.132 core last year to Rs.225 crore this year, he said.
One of the largest and fastest growing smartphone markets globally, India saw total shipments of about 22.5 million in the October-December 2014.
Founded in 2002, Gionee entered the GSM and CDMA mobile phone segment in 2005. It has 1500 emplyees in its head office, while R&D centers are set up in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hangzhou among several other places.
In 2006, the company moved to its 500-acre Gionee Industrial Park, with a production capacity of 40 million units per year. Once the entire industrial park is completed and put into production, its capacity will reach 80 million units per year, making Gionee Industrial Park the largest mobile phone production site in China.
In China, Gionee holds 7.2% market share as of 2011. Since then, Gionee is expanding overseas and now it is present in India, Nigeria, Vietnam, Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand and Philippines.
Gionee mobile phones are familiar in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Russia, Middle East and Africa, with exports reaching 1 million phones per month for the overseas markets.
Some of its known brands in India include Elife S and Elife E series.