Indian PC brands unlikely to become global

Country's brands such as HCL losing out to foreign names in domestic PC market and unlikely to become global brands in future due to consumer mindset, according to analysts.

It is tough for Indian PC brands to compete against global competitors in its home market as consumer mindshare tends to lean toward foreign names, note analysts, who add that local brands will need a complete revamp to win over the market.

Vishal Tripathi, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a phone interview that Indian PC brands find it "very difficult" to go up against multinational PC brands because they do not have the financial power, network or product differentiation to compete.

"Consumers and enterprises feel more comfortable with an MNC (multinational corporation) brand in India. They feel that if it's a foreign brand, it could be comparatively better--even though everyone's OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is the same," Tripathi said.

According to Gartner, only one Indian brand managed to secure a top five vendor ranking in India's PC market in fourth-quarter 2011. HCL Infosystems placed at fifth position with a 5.5 percent market share, but it saw a 34 percent year-on-year decline in unit shipment compared to the same quarter in 2010, the report noted. The Indian company, along with Hewlett-Packard, were the only two top five PC vendors to see a decline in market share.

Tripathi attributed the vendor's ranking to the company's "very strong brand name" in the country. Its parent company, HCL, also offers a range of products and services including IT services, infrastructure and PC hardware, he noted.

HCL Infosystems, which is the parent company's PC and hardware arm, has a strong foothold in education and government sectors as well as deep penetration into smaller cities in India, he said, adding that these factors help boost its position among other PC vendors.

Market figures from IDC, however, differed from Gartner's. Kiran Kumar, IDC's senior market analyst, revealed that HCL was not among the top five vendors for fourth-quarter 2011. That said, he noted that HCL in the past was a prominent brand in India and featured among the top three PC brands until 2008.

"HCL's forte has always been the commercial desktop PC market," Kumar explained. However, with consumers' buying preference shifting to mobile computers, the vendor had not been able to sustain its dominance, he added.

Indian brands not ready for global
According to the IDC analyst, the potential for an Indian brand to become a significant global PC brand appears slim currently.

One reason is that there are very few local brands in the PC market to begin with.

The "short list of local brands" includes the likes of HCL, Wipro and Zenith, as well as Chirag and Sai which are more geo-focused brands, he said.

"Most of the local brands in India have restricted themselves to niche [market] positioning, [focusing on] commercial or entry level devices, and have yet to strike a chord with the consumers through reach, brand recall or marketing efforts," Kumar explained.

Indian brands also lack in providing mobile PCs which can outsell desktop PCs in the near future, he said.

"We still do not have one local brand in India that has the potential to offer even the least threat to vendors in the top five ranking in India's portable PC market," he added.

He said local brands will need to look at the current market leaders and identify ways to increase their market share. Current leaders, for instance, offer good products supported by first-rate service and they do so at affordable price-points by using an efficient distribution model, he noted.

Tripathi added that local brands will need a complete makeover if they want to be competitive.

"They have to revamp themselves, from their channel [strategy] to marketing to distribution to products, to win over customer mindshare," the Gartner analyst said.

"At this time, they are not doing this aggressively. So I don't see the probability of them getting close to their MNC competitor anytime soon," he added.

HCL did not respond to ZDNet Asia's request for comments.


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