Micromax is an Indian consumer electronics company that manufactures mobile phones, tablets and televisions.
Launched in 1991, Micromax initially focused on reselling and distribution of hardware equipment and started working on embedded platforms as it transformed into an IT software company in the year 2000.
Seeing the burgeoning telecom market, Micromax entered the mobile handset business in 2008. By offering uniquely affordable handsets, it grew to become one of the largest Indian mobile handsets company by 2010.
As per a recent report published by an international research firm, Micromax became the largest selling mobile handset brand in India in 2014 and the tenth largest in the world. The company is estimated to now have over 16% market share of mobile phone sales and accounts for about 19% of the sales in the smartphone segment in India.
Since the onset of last year, Micromax has started manufacturing LED TVs and tablets, which are also priced moderately, keeping the global competition in mind.
It seems that Micromax is pretty serious about it’s ambitions to boost manufacturing units in India and increase it’s sales by offering products at unbelievably low prices.
Flipkart Partners With Micromax To Develop Mid-Range Smartphones
On the heels of the Flipkart-eBay announcement also came the announcement that Flipkart is now partnering with Micromax, to develop and market mid-range smartphones in the Indian market.
The smartphones will be called Evok, and will cost between INR 6,000 to 12,000. We do not know much about the devices yet, except that they can be expected out quite soon. What is also quite probable is that Flipkart will be the exclusive seller for them, much like it is for the Bharat 2, an INR 3,499 smartphone Micromax recently launched, and for the Dual 5, an INR 24,999 smartphone for the premium mid-range segment with Micromax’s first dual-camera set.
“It’s a long-term agreement with Flipkart where we will be developing products jointly based on the insights and consumer understanding we get,” Shubhajit Sen, Chief Marketing Officer at Micromax said.
The simple way to understand this is that the partnership will benefit both the parties in unique ways, while also giving them a joint front to fight competition. Micromax has been looking to expand its online presence for a while now. The brand, made for the expanding Indian market back in the year 2000, has had quite an amazing offline presence so far; their online presence, however, needs work, and Flipkart might be the key.
As for what’s in it for Flipkart is concerned, the retailer has been looking to sell more phones in tier 2 and tier 3 markets, and Micromax will give it the exact products to sell. Micromax’s already existing popularity in certain segments of the Indian market would only serve to boost sales, and flow more business Flipkart’s way.
The online retailer that just received a fresh round to the tune of $1.4 billion in funding seems to be warming up to the idea of expanding beyond. The move might be a good one at that. The Indian e-commerce market is basically flooded with names, and brands, and it is also at the moment, struggling, to keep up. Flipkart has managed to prove itself to be the bigger of the players in the market, recently also having acquired Myntra, and Jabong, its two biggest competitors in the clothing/fashion e-retail business. However, to maintain its edge now, it’ll have to keep being innovative, and smart.
The same goes for Micromax, the smartphone company that once changed the face of the smartphone market in India by bringing cheaper better budget phones in a time when phones used to be an “investment”. The brand, another Indian baby, of course, became quite popular amongst the populace, but with the advent of the Chinese budget brands like Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and the likes into the Indian market, Micromax’s stand started to shake. While Micromax mocked up the better phones in the Indian market, these brands worked on mocking up the international biggies. Microsoft dropped out of the top-5 selling smartphone list last year, and now it’s struggling to climb back up.
In a space where Flipkart is defending itself against Amazon, the American giant that has been only half as old as Flipkart in the Indian market, and where Micromax is defending itself against the Chinese budget brands that are just growing by the day, the partnership might be a key strategic move for the both of them.
Lineage OS To Rise From The Ashes Of CyanogenMod
From aiming to put a bullet into Google’s OS Android, to stoking high hopes in the geek community by building the first open source ROM, to finally crashing to pieces of code with no future – is quite a journey.
CyanogenMod started as the most widely used custom Android ROM and was aiming to dethrone Google with its open source technology and community build. Like every rising star that falls to ashes eventually, CyanogenMod is being discontinued forever.
With Cyanogen services being shut down, smartphones running CyanogenOS like the OnePlus One and Lenovo Zuk Z1 won’t be receiving further updates from the company. Which is a sad truth that owners must bear, and move on. The devices will continue to work though, just that they’d get boring beyond a point, apps will no longer be made for them, and over time they may become vulnerable to security breakdowns.
Internal conflicts in the Cyanogen Inc. team may have lead to the fall of Cyanogen.
Before you experience sorrow and drown a few beers in regret, for buying a device running CyanogenMod, over Android or iOS, there is good news.
A new brand of Cyanogen is being introduced, called Lineage OS and it promises to keep most of what you loved about CyanogenMod. The community and team posted in a blog post that the open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod on personally.
What really happened and what does the future hold?
According to chatter, there is lot of drama surrounding the death of CyanogenMod.
Cyanogen started as a community based open source ROM that aimed at providing a “better Android experience” to users by removing drags like carrier bloatware and garbage-heavy skins.
Before the launch of Nexus and Pixel devices, CyanogenMod was the only way to experience pure Android on smartphones.
In 2013, leading ROM developer Steve Kondik and few more developers created Cyanogen Inc. to build commercial variants of the ROM. They worked with phone brands like OnePlus and Micromax to bring their ROM to multiple phones and hence all new versions and nightly builds of the open source CyanogenMod projects were maintained by the Cyanogen Inc.
It appears that repeated and long-running conflicts in the vision that Kondik and McMaster had for the company’s future led to removal of McMaster as the CEO. Kondik, considered the main brain behind the company had already left the company.
The company broke their deal with OnePlus which resulted in them loosing their most trusting partner. The new management took over and decided to stop maintaining the open source project. Which meant no more nightly builds and no more development. Instead the company decided to focus on what they called the Cyanogen Modular OS program.
CyanogenMod team in a separate blog post pointed out a few reasons why open source project of Cyanogen was affected and what lead to the shutdown. “It will come as no surprise that this most recent action from Cyanogen is definitely a death blow for CyanogenMod”, the team wrote and explained in a blog post. In a separate long post, the CyanogenMod team fully have shared how decisions taken by some of the team members were affecting the very future of CyanogenMod.
The official statement from the company confirmed that it’s next open source initiative and the so called future of CyanogenMod, Lineage OS, will be created and developed with the help of some folks from the original team, and be taking several steps forward from the CyanogenMod.
Taking some words from the blog post to convey the same: “Embracing that spirit, we the community of developers, designers, device maintainers and translators have taken the steps necessary to produce a fork of the CM source code and pending patches. This is more than just a ‘rebrand’. This fork will return to the grassroots community effort that used to define CM while maintaining the professional quality and reliability you have come to expect more recently”.
Cyanogen Inc. took some abrupt decisions and community is still getting over the decision and significance of consequences that follow the decision. The team states that Lineage OS comes as the next generation instead of a rebrand and it can prepare for any kind of transition for CyanogenMod user and have little time for the development on its own.
Let’s see how this works out. The one thing that’s for certain though, is that there are thus only two really mobile OS’ left out there – with Samsung going cold on Tizen development, and now CyanogenMod getting shuttered, Android and iOS become the only pillars left standing.
The Tough Just Got Tougher: Introducing Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5!
This one goes out to all my clumsy comrades who keep dropping their smartphones from new heights and of course, to all you other more sapient creatures who’d like to know just how sturdy the next generation of touchscreen iPhones is going to be.
Corning is coming up with the King Kong of tough glass material, the “Gorilla Glass 5”.
Established in 1851, Corning Inc. is a veteran in the glass and ceramics manufacturing industry with the experience of over a century and a half under its belt, and the credit for developing the ion exchange and fusion process to make toughened glass – a kind of shatterproof glass with a high resistance to physical and thermal pressure. It is used everywhere from automobiles to buildings to cookware to bulletproof windows and even space shuttles!
Corning Gorilla Glass has been used on more than 4.5 billion devices worldwide, including more than 1,800 product models across 40 major brands! Some companies that use Corning Glass in their products are: Acer, Asus, HP, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung, Micromax and Huawei.
A standard feature of any smartphone worth its salt, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is a similarly toughened glass made especially for electronic devices and displays. Interestingly, it was used for the very first time in the first generation of iPhones that was launched in 2007 – months before Corning made it available on the market. While thin and lightweight, it is highly resistant to the battery of scratches that befall a smartphone on a daily basis.
Vice President and General Manager at Corning Gorilla Glass, John Bayne, states on Corning’s website that the new product will secure Corning’s position over those of its competitors.
According to a recent global study, over 85% of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once per year and 55% have dropped their phones three times or more. Additionally, more than 60% of smartphone owners reported dropping their devices between shoulder and waist height.
In addition to the ability to withstand unfortunate falls, the tougher glass promises an unmatched clarity and sensitivity while being thin enough for your smartphone to look as slim and slick as ever.
Mobile devices are the primary tools consumers use to capture, view, create, send and consume digital content, and the cover glass is the interface for touching, typing and swiping that content. Consumers count on their cover glass to deliver damage resistance, optical clarity, touch sensitivity, and protection from drops.
Gorilla Glass 5 is a marked improvement over its previous iterations. Where Gorilla Glass 4 could only survive falls of up to 3.2 feet, the new one can survive those of up to 5.2 feet. With more than half of all smartphone users dropping their cell phones at least thrice each year, and with most of those falls occurring from shoulder or waist height, the new glass is a much-needed advancement in prolonging the lifespan of our precious devices.
There has also been some speculation, ever since the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2014, over whether Apple might choose Sapphire glass, a harder material made of Sapphire crystal, over Corning’s Gorilla Glass. However, Apple has consistently refused to use it on its displays and with good reason.
Sapphire is costlier and bulkier than glass. It is also less transparent, which means that more light must pass through the display for it to be bright enough, putting a strain on battery life while making the iPhone bulkier and costlier. Sapphire is, however, practically immune to scratches and which is why Apple uses it on the camera and home button/fingerprint scanner of the iPhone 6.
In all probability, the upcoming series of iPhones will feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. Not only would this be in line with Apple’s plan to make a stronger build of the iPhone after the “Bendgate” fiasco, but it would also make sense given the fact that each successive generation of the iconic phone has used Corning’s high strength glass.
Even though Corning and Apple work in a rather clandestine fashion, and there has been no official statement on the matter, it would be rather safe to make that prediction.
Does Yu Yunicorn Satisfy Us At INR 12,999?
Micromax’s sub-brand Yu Televentures has launched its latest flagship smartphone Yu Yunicorn. Hitting the markets on 7th June, Yu’s newest outing will be exclusively available on Flipkart for Rs. 12999; after a month it will be available for Rs. 13499. Coming in Rush Silver and Graphite options, there also lays a limited edition version which comes in Rush Gold color.
Contrary to their earlier outing, the Yunicorn, this time they’re going lesser of the ‘all out there’ way. The Yu Yunicorn is the company’s seventh smartphone after the Yureka, Yuphoria, Yureka Plus, Yunique, Yutopia, and Yureka Note. The focus seems to be on software and services and the segment it is launched in is a crowded space of cutthroat competition where it isn’t easy to compete.
Company founder Rahul Sharma stressed that the Yunicorn should not be compared with budget or mid-range smartphones available at similar prices. He said the Yu Yunicorn introduces a lot of new features yet to be seen on previous Yu handsets, and aims at competing with flagships with higher price tags from competitors.
For features, Yu Yunicorn possesses:
A radical change that has been introduced is supplementing Cyanogen OS with a near-stock version of Android. The company claims that the Yunicorn runs “Android on steroids” which refers to the deep integration of Around Yu into the launcher. Around Yu 2.0 has gained new features such as the option to consult with doctors, and the new Yu Wallet which is powered by Udio. Yu has teamed up with healthcare communication and delivery startup Lybrate for the medical assistance feature, and had announced a partnership with TranServ in December last year for Yu Wallet.
The new software of the company (Around Yu) also offers some minor changes like a vertical app drawer which makes scrolling easier and a monochrome mode for checking extending battery life. Along with this, the smartphone will soon receive Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow upgrade.
The appearance of this phone is something which trumps other Yu smartphones greatly. Aluminum, which seems to be the flavor of the market, makes it a strong sensation in the arms or the pockets while the round edges help greatly while holding. The Micro-USB charging port is on the bottom, whereas the audio socket is on the top while the power and volume rocker buttons are placed on the right.
The smartphone packs DTS sound enhancement (also a feature in Vivo Xplay 3S) and includes a dual microphone setup with noise cancellation thereby pitting it for offering a quality music experience.
The Yunicorn will also come with MiMedia Social Cloud, which can back up data on the device directly to the cloud once enabled, and will offer some new “unique features”. But that is all that is known about this aspect as of now since none of these unique features were demonstrated at the launch.
The similarities that were drawn by comparisons of its look to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 were thwarted by changing the LED flash from horizontal to vertical and repositioning the speaker. It doesn’t bode well for Yu if their product is confused with its biggest competitor in that segment.
With the specifications that it offers coupled with their performance the Yu Yunicorn is still to deliver on some its promises but for a price of Rs. 12999 (and later Rs. 13499) it does offer potential for being a good buy.
Introducing Micromax Canvas Mega 4G
Micromax has introduced two phones, the Micromax Canvas Mega E353 and the Micromax Canvas Mega 4G Q 417. The Canvas Mega E353 has been around for sometime, with it being sold online on Flipkart. The change has been that while the price on Flipkart was INR 8320, Micromax has set the price at INR 7,999.
Coming to the new addition in the Micromax family – the Micromax Canvas Mega 4G Q 417. It is a 4G enabled phone (as the name suggests) and retails at INR 10,999 and comes in color Gold.
Let’s break the phone down; the Micromax Canvas Mega 4G Q 417 comes with:
With the said specs, the Micromax introductions will face competition from Yureka Plus, Lenovo K3 Note, Xiaomi Mi 4, Lumia 640 and Honor 4X.
Vineet Taneja, CEO, Micromax Informatics shared the “At Micromax, we believe that large screen smartphones will surely address some major consumers’ pain points by providing users with a better viewing experience and more productivity on-the-go. With the launch of the Mega series, we’re reinforcing our commitment to bold and fearless innovation that meets the needs of our consumers.
Going forward, with the increase in consumption of innovative content lon the move in tier 2-3 cities as well, Micromax will focus on 5.5 inch smartphones and strengthen its existing portfolio to offer an immersive internet and entertainment experience to our consumers.”
We have one concern: The team has increased the screen size, added 4G and increased the processing power, however the battery is a paltry 2500mAh. This does not seem like an optimal combination for the ever mobile users.
YU Yutopia To Launch On 7th December
Yu, a subsidiary of Indian budget smart device producer Micromax has sent out invites for the launch of its next flagship smartphone Yu Yutopia. The phone is due for launch on the 7th of December.
Earlier this year Micromax’s co-founder Rahul Sharma had proclaimed the Yutopia to be ‘The Most Powerful Phone on the Planet’.
Here’s what he had posted on the Yu Forum – “Has it happened to you ever that you have been transformed from your real life into this dream where everything is perfect. The impractical, idealistic world where nothing is impossible. Well, it’s happening here and the state of YUTOPIA is no more a dream. We have been working very hard to come up with the most powerful phone on this planet, yes you heard it right THE MOST POWERFUL PHONE EVER, and boy, do we hit our target this time…..the answer is YESSSSSSSSSS! The Most Powerful Phone on this planet will be from YU for YOU and from India, making the YU clan the most POWERFUL in the World! Final work in progress, I am really excited and can’t wait to share it with you all. Stay tuned“.
Yu is Micromax’s online subsidiary and a relatively young and vibrant brand. The devices manufactured by it fall in either the entry or mid-level segments. Yutopia is the first device to be manufactured by the company that has been in the news for the past few months given that the company’s co-founder has been so out and loud about it being an outstanding device.
As per sources, Yutopia is anticipated to be one of the best devices to be made by the Indian smartphone manufacturer. It will sport a 5.2 inch QHD (2560×1440) display screen, an internal storage space of 32 GB and a 3 or 4 GB RAM.
Rumours also say that the phone will be powered by Snapdragon 810 SoC and will have a 21 megapixel rear camera and an 8 megapixel front shooter for those beautiful selfies to be clicked by you.
The body is said to have been beautifully done in metal and the phone will run on Android 5.1 Lollipop based Cyanogen OS 12.1 at the time of launch.
Even though many specifications about the phone have been revealed, the price of the phone is still kept a secret, however it is speculated that the price of this much anticipated device is sure to be higher than that of the other Micromax smartphones since the phone seems to be extremely promising and packed with a bundle of exciting features.
Lets see if the Yutopia is a complete combination of beauty and class. And whether it lives up to Sharma’s proclamations, or if it’s another one of those hyperbolic announcements based purely on optimism.
Lollipop Update For Micromax Canvas
Micromax has finally revealed that the Canvas series will be receiving the Lollipop (Android 5.0) update shortly.
This is great news for Micromax Canvas users can now enjoy the benefits of the new OS on their budget smartphones.
Micromax’s spokesperson in a press statement said, “As a brand, we are committed to keep our customers delighted with best in class technologies and experience. Riding on the same thought, we are today rolling out the Android L update with Canvas Xpress, making the overall user experience more efficient and seamless.”. He also added that, “Micromax thrives on consumer centricity and that is clearly visible through the company’s continuous growth trajectory and high recall in consumer mind share”.
The Indian mobile manufacturer has promised over-the-air (OTA) updates to the smartphones in the Canvas series, however, the Canvas Xpress A99 (priced at INR 6,999) will be the first smartphone in the Canvas series and probably one of the inexpensive budget smartphones to receive the update.
The smartphone is currently running the Android 4.4 KitKat OS with stock interface which will be soon replaced by the Material Design language, thus providing an all-new user interface on the device. The update will obviously enhance the overall user experience and will take it to the next level.
Users when connected to the internet, will automatically receive the OTA and they will be asked to get through some simple steps to set up the new OS. They can manually do the same by opening up the ‘Settings’ menu and going to ‘About phone’ and then to ‘Software updates’ and can check for any new updates available.
Currently, Micromax has not made their plans clear for the roll out with regards to the other smartphones in the Canvas series, nor has the definite timeframe for the roll out been unveiled, yet.
So, the other Canvas users will have to wait till Micromax announces the update for the other smartphones in the series.
With less than 7% of the Android phones running on Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, the roll out should be expedited so users can experience the benefits.
Are Indian Mobile Device Manufacturers Becoming A Threat To The Global Players?
Home-bred mobile device manufacturers from India have stormed the market with devices that offer functionality at an optimum cost, without compromising on the robustness of the device.
Indian brands are at the top of the Indian Device Sales plateau at this time; the reason we call it a plateau is because we do not have a single clear winner, as Samsung shares the stage with Micromax a close second at the top of Indian’s first choice for smartphones.
A study from the International Data Corporation (IDC) points out that our home grown Micromax with a market share of 26% is a worthy rival to the current king, Samsung with a very slim market share difference; the next big player is “Karbonn” with 13% market share.
Are the old stars: Sony (9%), Nokia (6%), dimming out of the market? It definitely seems so. While both brands have been turning out attractive looking devices, they just haven’t been able to convince the customers of their superiority; or woo them well enough to get customers (old and new) to dip into their wallets to pay for a Sony or a Nokia off-late.
The baby boom in Indian manufacturers (Micromax, Karbonn, Lava and Intex) gives some variety and flavor to the Indian mobilescape. Lava in fact, has claimed that they are a brand that has complete in-house R&D set-up in India which is very different from run-of-the-mill China-created handsets.
We believe that the biggest reason is that these Brands understood and played to the Indian psyche very, very well. In an emerging country with a bulging middle class, these brands have talked common sense – giving the masses superior technology at a price point, which they can comfortably afford. Indian brands don’t target the top of the economic ladder; they target the big and burgeoning middle class i.e. the mass market.
Samsung and Apple have accumulated their brand goodwill over many years, and today command a premium for their phones… phones that are not that different from the offerings of the lesser known brands.
However Indian darling, Micromax’s positive sentiment via its existing customer base as well as it’s ad-spend has ensured its significant success, in India and in several international markets.
So can this newfound phenomenon be pegged simply to price sensitivity?
Well, no. Market stats clearly provide that 66% of the Indian cellphone market buys devices under INR 10,000. It is thus unarguable that Karbonn, Micromax, Lava and the such like offer much more value for money and undoubtedly, a rational customer could go for a phone with the same features offered at a much lower price point.
Lets consider the example of the Micromax Canvas Doodle (priced at INR 12,999); it is the cheaper counterpart of the Samsung Galaxy Note, the current #1 device, yet available at 1/3rd its price. The same feature set and fairly decent build quality clearly make the Canvas Doodle a great phone for a newly emerging technology-adapting market.
Let’s take another example: The newest offering from Micromax is the Canvas Turbo A250.
It comes with a 5-inch Full-HD display, has an aluminum chassis (which even Samsung cannot boast of, given their penchance for cheaper polycarbonate and plastic), 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera that can record videos in full HD and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. Add to it, a 2000 mAh Li Ion battery giving 7 hours of talk time, too.
The phone comes with pre-loaded apps, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G & 2G, Wi-Fi, GSM, Dual SIM and all other the razz-matazz accompanying at top-line device. All of it for INR 19,990 (approx. USD 335).
Micromax could even drum up enough money to rope in Hugh Jackman as their brand ambassador!
It’s time to come back to the big question – Is it just the price however, that draws the crowd?
The Micromax Canvas 4 may have failed to excite as it was launched with a 720p display instead of 1080p.
However, Chip-Monks’ own review of the 5-inch displays found on all three devices yielded that the Canvas 4 appears to be the winner with its pixel density of up to a 293 ppi.
Brownie points too, for the IPS display with scratch resistance, found lacking in the other two devices’ TFT displays.
The Xperia C can be deemed the strongest in the battery department, with its 2,390 mAh battery that gives up to 10 hours of talk time; however it loses out significantly on onboard storage, 4 GB compared to 8 GB from Samsung and 16 GB in Canvas 4.
Talking about the cameras, the Canvas 4 is again the winner with a 13 megapixel rear- and 5 megapixel front facing cameras.
Hence, the Canvas 4 stands out as the winner in its category against heavyweights like Samsung and Sony!
So what does the future hold?
The trend is quite clear in many Asian markets, China, Philippines and India. If the brands at the top of the plateau want to maintain their control, they need shift their strategies and delight the mid-tier. Phones that are not just inexpensive but are capable of living up to the aspirations and display innovation that consumers now want and can’t do without, is what homegrown brands will be gunning with.
The obvious recognition of the markets’ needs may just allow these Davids to topple the Goliaths off the top and establish themselves as market leaders.
Dare we predict an Indian startup at the top or is it too optimistic?
These Indian smartphone companies have now drawn the attention of the masses and their potential for expansion in the future is great.
The international giants have already begun considering them as rivals and rightly so. If the Indian challengers keep with the pace of technological advancement in the field of smartphones, innovate independently and persevere with their marketing, they are likely to be strong competitors to the international brands, not just in India but perhaps in the international brands’ home turfs too!