We(Indians) are grabbing Tablets, Smartphones like never before!

16 Apr

So, yesterday I was at Croma at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon(E). For those who are not familiar with Croma, its a retail chain from TATA Group for Consumer Electronics and Durables. I simply love going to these stores, since they are quite huge and have probably every Consumer Electronics all under one roof, be it Laptops, Desktops, Peripheral, Mobiles, Cameras, Tablets, TVs, etc etc. They are quiet spacious, well laid out and unlike many other stores, the salespeople don’t become your shadow just so that they can”close” a deal.  In-fact I have never bought anything from Croma so far, as I found their prices a bit higher(5-10%) than what I may get outside. But its about the experience of getting a “feel” of the product you have in mind before actually buying it.

This time I had gone to inquire about iPhone4 and iPad2. As expected they had no clue as to when either is coming. Though the fault lies with Apple and to their hyper-secrecy about product launches and their release dates. And since Apple has a only-hate relationship with India, it doesn’t make it better.

The other reason I went was to get a feel of  iPad-1 and Samsung Galaxy Tab(since I really want to get a Tablet and thinking seriously about it) and also to check out the latest Android-powered Smartphones which is flooding, literally flooding the Indian market.

I was in the store for about 45 minutes and had an experience which I couldn’t have imagined a few years or even months back. So lets begin –

  • There were 3 demo-iPads for customers to experience it. The entire time I was there, I couldn’t get to even one. There were people drooling over it and many more crowding awaiting their chance to get a feel of this gadget which didn’t even existed and no one heard of a few months back (Yes iPad-1 was officially launched in India only in Feb 2011, almost after 10 months since it came out in US). I was sure it will take a long time for my chance to come and hence decided to move on.
  • I went to the section of iPad/iPod accessories. As I was checking out, I over-heard few conversations people were having on their mobile phones. And no I was not eaves-dropping, neither had the intention of doing it. Just that people were talking reasonably loudly and with so excitement, it was difficult to not pay attention. Each and every conversation was about people asking their friends/tech-gurus as to which Smartphone they should buy, but more importantly whether they should buy a Blackberry or an Android ones, whether they can sync it with their Outlook, whether it has a Google App so that they can be in touch with their emails, maps, calendars and so on! Wow! I was so proud to see my fellow countrymen being up-to date with latest technology and everyone wants to make their life(work, personal) more efficient, more exciting, more moving with the times. I also heard one guy talking about whether Gingerbread is the latest from Android or is it Froyo! Super-cool!
  • Now before people caught me listening to them, it was time to move on. Now I was just walking casually with no particular section/product in mind to go to, when I noticed many people carry something which very closely resembled diary/notebook. I thought may be they were part of the same corporate crowd, who have just come out for some conference or going to one. But when I see youngsters(in casual attire) and many women also carrying it, I felt not all could be attending conferences. And then one women opened her diary and there it was – Samsung Galaxy Tab! So people were actually carrying their Tablets just like they carry their mobile phones! Very very interesting! Though I have to say I didn’t see a single i-Pad, everyone who had a Tablet had a Samsung Galaxy Tab! Tablet didn’t exist not too long ago and it already gained immense popularity that it has become a part of their being just like a Mobile phone! And keep in mind that Samsung Galaxy Tab is not really cheap at around INR 24k($520). So in-spite of the high entry barrier, many people are actually shelling out so much signifies the change in consumer mindset, buying preferences and that if a product is new, exciting, innovative, even if not for the masses, people would buy it if the product/marketers(think of Steve Jobs, he totally makes you believe that you HAVE to buy Apple products and how it will change your lives or make it far more interesting and fun) can create a need for them! Its a very dynamic time to be in, as far as Sales/Marketing professionals are concerned!
  • Now it was time to head to my last section of Smartphones! Even though I don’t change my phones regularly I love to be updated as to what new phones are coming out, what platform they are on, the features and the price bracket! Before there used to be just one section for mobile-phones and within that section a handful were smartphones. But now there is a separate section just for smartphones and the no. of models on display far exceed the non-smartphones. And not a single person was at the non-smartphones section! While I was checking out the Samsung i9003(which is the successor to the immensely popular i9000, but which has been discontinued as the demand far exceeded the supply and the SAMOLED screen which gave it the best display ever was in deep shortage), 3-4 people came and instead of checking out the models themselves asked the sales-person as to which are the models which are 3G enabled, which are the models that support video-calling, which are the models that are Android based and whether the Android version was Froyo or something else! The last query the sales-person was slightly less informed but apart from that he was well aware of the products, which goes on to say that he gets these types of questions every single day! A lot of credit goes to the manufacturers who have been consistently dropping the prices and now you can get an Android Smartphone for under 10k($220)! People clearly don’t mind shelling out a few bucks more if they can get a fully-loaded phone! This is not to say that high-end phones are not worth, as a lot of factors come into play which dictates the price of a phone! Interestingly there was just one iPhone 3GS on display priced at around 30k($650) and expectantly no body seem to be interested in it! Well if you can get a similar phone for half the price, is unlocked why would anyone go for the overly priced iPhone! But then Apple is not known for its reasonable pricing and some may say that, it is exactly what makes it exclusive.
  • My last experience is a beautiful reflection of the Indian culture. There was a family checking out few smartphones(Father, Mother, Daughter and Son). The boy must be around 10-12 years, the girl 15-18. The father and son were busy checking out the phones. The mother and daughter were engrossed spectators. Now 2 models were short-listed(I assume it was a family day out for the son to get a new phone!). Not surprisingly the son liked the model which cost slightly more than the model his father liked! Now came the climax! The son wants the one he liked. The father clearly wants to save some money, but at the same time doesn’t want to disappoint the son by dictating what to buy! As you can see its a very complicated situation! Enter the mother! Even though she has no idea about phones, she magically says something(as they were not speaking in English or Hindi, I couldn’t catch the magic-words of the mother) to her son, her son thinks for sometime and then happily agrees on the model his father had in mind! A difficult situation has been solved rather effortlessly! The entire family is happy!
To sum it up – 
  • People may spend a lot of time trying out Apple products but when its time to buy, to shed some fat off the wallet, very few people buy Apple!
  • Tablets are selling like hot-cakes! Though Samsung Galaxy Tab is easily outselling iPad!
  • The time is in favor of Smartphones and more on the Android platform! Blackberrys are too boring, too outdated, iPhones are too expensive! Android are fun and cheap!
  • There are still families, where the parents decide the gadgets for their children or at-least have a say. This group may be diminishing, but it still exists!
  • There is a demand of 3G and Video-calling is very high. If the service providers can improve their infrastructure, have a reasonable pricing, people would happily pay!
  • There was a time in India, when if it was priced lower it would sell. But not anymore. Price is not the only criteria where buying is concerned.


Surfing the net is the #1 activity people do on their Tablets, but there was no Wi-fi or rather not one available for public use inside Croma. So at-least on the Tablets, Wi-fi should be hooked up for to be able to see how the browsing experience is on a Tablet! And the reason Smartphones are gaining popularity is because of apps, this is the primary reason why still iPhone rules overall and where Android is catching up. So even while buying Smartphones people may want to see the App market and the apps available before zeroing in on a particular phone. Wi-fi is must!


One more thing, few people asked the sales-person as to which is the latest model from Samsung and repeatedly the sales-person mentioned Samsung Galaxy Tab! It can be used to make calls, but I don’t think it should be categorized as a smartphone for obvious reasons(Size!). Its primarily  a Tablet!



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