Bharti to enter mobile handsets market with Beetel

Bharti Enterprises' subsidiary, Beetel to introduce economical feature handsets in India. Acquisition of Zain telecomm in Africa and being a part of one f the biggest telecomm carrier (Airtel) makes them a powerful competitor.
Written by Manan Kakkar, Contributor

Well known for their fixed line phones, Beetel Teletech is all set to launch several mobile handsets in India. Part of Bharti Enterprises that owns AirTel, it signifies Bharti’s intent of maintaining their dominance in Indian telecommunications. The handsets are expected to cater to the economical feature phones and it doesn’t look like Beetel will be competing with smart phones like Nokia N8 or the iPhone.

Beetel CEO Vinod Sawhny talked about the market opportunity in the Rs. 5000 INR segment. Nokia knows this market well and they are an established brand. Beetel's handsets are expected to have basic features like: camera, FM, dual SIM, QWERTY keyboards. Beetel Teletech executive director and CEO Vinod Sawhny says, “The market is huge and there is a room for Indian players... Phones in the price range of Rs 2,000-6,000 are witnessing 30 per cent growth and we plan to offer a good combination of feature-rich phones at affordable prices. It was important for a group company, Beetel, to enter the market with a product for masses that is different from others.”

Beetel’s history and Airtel’s presence might factor in helping them carve a place for themselves. With a nationwide distribution network of 4000 outlets, Delhi, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Punjab and sevenNorth Eastern states will first see the handsets. According to the Economic Times, 400 service centers and SMS facility to locate service centers will enable better after-sales. Value added services like social networking integration, bundled software like Opera Mini and partnerships with Yahoo, Ibibo make them a worthy competitor.

Beetel seems to be serious since they plan on establishing designing and innovation centers in India with manufacturing being done elsewhere.There are no plans to be Airtel exclusive and they will talk to most GSM carriers. Their target is to become one of the top five players within 3 years. Bharti joins an increasing list of indigenous gadget manufacturers.

Bharti’s acquisition of Zain Telecomm in Africa has opened another lucrative market for Beetel’s handsets.

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