Microsoft India rules out Windows Phone handsets from local OEMs

Microsoft India's chairman was critical of the experience quality offered by Indian OEMs.
Written by Manan Kakkar, Contributor

The Indian mobile handset market a sudden influx of advertisements from local handset manufacturers. Names like Karbonn, Micromax, Lava and Spice were being endorsed by popular cricket and TV stars during the annual cricketing extravaganza in India called the Indian Premiere League. These handset manufacturers brought smartphone features to feature-phones at affordable prices. When added with someone's favorite cricket recommending it, the phones sold. These local players were instrumental in shifting the power balance away from Nokia as Nokia lost its way.

Google's Android was another reason that helped these OEMs. An open-source phone operating system that drastically reduced cost, had brand leverage and could be loaded on any hardware was exactly what was needed. As it turned out, these local phone manufacturers were giving the big guys a run for their money. Following are the top handset manufacturers in India according to Gartner:

  1. Nokia
  2. Samsung
  3. G'Five
  4. Karbonn
  5. Micromax

These players are most likely to continue offering smartphone features to feature-phones using Android or alternatives like Java. Speaking to the press in Kolkatta, Microsoft India's Chairman—Bhaskar Pramanik—said these local players cannot offer the quality of user experience Microsoft wants to offer through Windows Phone devices. In India, manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and Nokia are selling non-US versions of their popular Windows Phone handsets. Pramanik Bhaskar said, "The Windows Phone requires a specification for the user experience. We want to give the same kind of experience that Apple has. This limits the number of manufacturers who can build a product around that. I think till they can design and build a product with that level of specification, yes it is a challenge for them.”

He further talked about price points and was very clear that as of now Microsoft is not focusing on the highly price-conscious market segment but catering to the smartphone audience that is ready to pay around $300 for their phones.

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