Microsoft To Tap India’s Budget Smartphone Market With Cheaper Windows Phone Devices
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While top-of-the-line flagship smartphones get all the attention from the media and make the geeks gasp, budget and mid-range smartphones are the ones that bring volumes for a handset-maker.

According to IDC, Windows Phone is the second largest operating system in India, but it has just 10% of the growing market share. However, Microsoft is hoping to tap this market and expects the Windows Phone business to grow faster.

Microsoft is targeting the $50 billion affordable handset market globally, with special focus on emerging markets such as India. Interestingly, 80% of the Indian market is ruled by smartphones priced below Rs 10,000. Of course, there's also a huge scope of growth as the section of consumers, currently using features phones, are expected to upgrade to smartphones over the next couple of years.

Nokia Lumia 520, the most affordable Windows Phone device till date, has more than 12 million activations globally and became a runaway success for Windows Phone. It gave a good impetus to the ecosystem and also validated the need for budget smartphones.

Of course, Nokia had several Windows Phone devices in the Rs 10,000-20,000 price band. Still, Windows Phone was a one-OEM show for most. HTC hardly stayed on the shelves in India and Samsung ATIV never arrived. As a result, both brand awareness and marketing blast were limited in the country.

At the Mobile World Congress 2014, held in Barcelona earlier this year, Microsoft announced new OEM partners for Windows Phone devices. Then there are Indian handset-makers like Micromax, LAVA, and Karbonn that have found great success in cheap and mid-range Android smartphones. The price factor and the value-for-money promise got the better of build quality, after-sales service, and brand name. The brands, too, grew by leaps and bounds, capturing big chunks of the market and gaining customer loyalty along the way.

The addition of new OEMs to the fold will bring both variety and range to Windows Phone devices on the shelves, in television commercials, and across the New Media - increasing positive mindshare and attracting potential customers.

Then there's the new Qualcomm chipsets and Windows Phone 8.1 that support dual-SIM capability, a much-requested feature in emerging markets like India. In fact, that feature alone is pushing the uptake.

Micromax has also announced two devices - Canvas Win W092 and Canvas Win W121 - both priced below Rs 10,000. Unlike the budget Lumia, the Micromax phones don't cut corners in hardware and it will be left to customers to choose between the two brands. Then there is the Xolo WIN Q900s at Rs 11,500, the lightest Windows Phone device in the market that also checks most of the boxes for a budget smartphone.

These devices will be available soon and we'll see how they fare in reviews and in the market. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been closely working with top app and game developers, and publishers to evangelize the Windows platform, helping them build apps for the growing ecosystem.