One of the things that Android has done is to help level off the playing field. Whereas before, users relied on recognized brands–like Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG, and HTC–to make their smartphone purchasing decisions, users are now turning to inexpensive handsets that are running the Android OS platform made by brands and companies that they haven’t heard of before. The reason? Perhaps because Android offers somewhat of a consistent user experience regardless of brands–especially if the handset hasn’t been customized with any company’s user interface for an added user experience layer–as 13% of all mobile phones sold in the first quarter of 2011 come from an unknown brand.
Unlike more recognized brands that compete on features, these low-end brands are competing on price with low margins and high volume productions for the low end and mid-tier markets. According to Strategy Analytics, brands like Micromax, Spice Mobile, and Yulong Coolpad are outperforming Sony Ericsson and Motorola in emerging markets.
Micromax and Spice successfully built their portfolio with feature-rich, multi-SIM handsets which span across ultra-low and entry-tier segments, catering to growing rural subscribers. These companies are now launching mid-tier 3G handsets and Android smartphones which target the growing category of urban and suburban 3G subscribers. Hong Kong-based vendor, Yulong Coolpad, is on track to becoming a known player in the China 3G market, supplying affordable, mid-tier 3G smartphones to suburban and urban users. Yulong Coolpad is growing relationships with all three Chinese mobile carriers, tapping the growing 3G boom in this important handset market.
So while companies like Apple, HTC, and Samsung are focusing on the high-end market, there is a growing low-end market that Chinese and Indian smartphone-makers are tapping.