Monday, May 20, 2013

Panasonic CEO, India is an immensely opportunity oriented market

Panasonic's effort to launch a smartphone in India at a time when Samsung and Apple have captured the market will not be futile, Panasonic India's managing director Manish Sharma told ET's Gulveen Aulakh as it will rely on speed to bring nine models across price range to the market within a quarter.

The Japanese handset maker plans to eat into Samsung's smartphone market share in India with attractive EMI schemes and parent company's technological advancements, and maintains that it is not a late entrant here. Excerpts:
Why launch a single smartphone model now when the likes of Samsung and Apple have aggressively cornered the market? Do you think your move is little too late?
One always does a SWAT analysis and what you mentioned are some of the threats in the market. In my mind, what the consumer wants is a perspective for our strategy and not competition. It is a good time to come to the market because one perspective is that it is dominated by Koreans or a couple of brands to the extent of 50-60 % but the other perspective is consumers are looking for better products, better value for money. In the next three months we will have a product portfolio of nine products ranging from 6,990 to 35,000.

Globally, Panasonic's handsets are not selling that well, how will you ensure success in India?
India is an immensely opportunity oriented market and it is (smartphone segment) is growing very fast so we will have our space in the overall market. We will eat into share of few categories in 4-5 inch screen size. Secondly, people have not understood what Panasonic is known for. We have a share of 50% in many categories in Japan and our technologies are much better than the second (ranking) player in for instance, energy (batteries), security and surveillance. The idea is utilize Panasonic's technologies to be in Indian market and ensure that speed of marketing the handsets is very high because products keep changing very fast.

Why would a customer won't buy the recently launched LG Nexus 4 available for 26,000 with better specs, or a Galaxy S3 for 27,000? Even a Micromax is available with the same Mediatek chipset as the P51 for 15,000. What is Panasonic's USP?
Specification wise our product cannot be compared with the others. A customer buys a product based on aesthetics, form factor, finish, whether the product is fully loaded in terms of display, HD, quad-core or version of Android. P51 will be the second phone in the Indian market on Jelly Bean 4.2 and the powerful battery that's a challenge for most phones. Our USP will be the experience.

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