Apple edges past Xiaomi to grab No. 6 spot in India’s top 30 cities

Apple edges past Xiaomi to grab No. 6 spot in India's top 30 cities
Apple, which was upstaged by Xiaomi in the world’s largest smartphone market China last year, has struck back in the world’s fastest-growing market.

The maker of the iconic iPhone has grabbed the No. 6 spot in market share in India’s top 30 cities, which make up 51% of the smartphone market, edging past Xiaomi after taking rapid strides in the highly competitive market.

Apple captured the No. 6 slot even in the price-sensitive tier-2 and tier-3 cities, which are the traditional strongholds of Indian vendors, according to data for the October to December 2015 period from US market research firm International Data Corporation, which was reviewed by ET.

Apple topped the premium price segment of $300 (Rs 20,000) and above, with an over 42% share across the 30 cities following the launch of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in the first half of the quarter and subsequent price drops of its earlier 5s, 6 and 6 Plus models, analysts at IDC said.

“Apple leads in top 30 cities in the premium segment, and in tier-2 and 3 cities, it has considerably narrowed the gap with the competition,” said Navkendar Singh, senior research manager at IDC India.

IDC classifies Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru as tier-1cities and the remaining 25, including state capitals, as tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Apple held a 4.6% share in the 30 cities, with Samsung Electronics and Micromax Informatics continuing to be top two players. I

In the tier-2 and 3 cities, Apple was sixth with a 2.8% share. Xiaomi had a 4.5% share in all 30 cities. “Smartphone consumers in tier-2 and tier-3 cities are becoming more aware and demanding devices with latest features, specifications, affordable prices and convenient buying options,” said Jaideep Mehta, managing director for IDC South Asia.

These lower-tier cities make up 21% of the Indian smartphone market, the second-largest after China by unique users, and constitute more than two-thirds of the sub-$100 (Rs 6,800) segment.

Apple, which didn’t consider India a major market until a few years ago, is now placing long-term bets on the country with plans to set up its own stores while offering buybacks, discounts and upgrades to get more users.

Lenovo-Motorola secured the No. 3 spot overall, followed by Intex and Lava. Intex was No. 3 with a 9.1% share in the lower-tier cities, ahead of Lenovo-Motorola and Lava. Apple and Xiaomi were not among IDC’s top-five companies by sales volumes for the entire Indian smartphone market.

Freedom251 sets off alarm bells, firm to refund money

Is the Rs 251 smartphone, Freedom251, turning out to be too good to be true? While the skepticism over the company’s ability to sell the phone at such a low price continues unabated, new problems are piling up-—the latest being the possible shut down of its Noida office.

The company, Ringing Bells, has also faced queries from Income Tax department, the Enforcement Directorate and Department of Electronics and IT. ED officials are understood to have quizzed the promoters of the company on their business model. When contacted by TOI on Wednesday, Ashok Chadha, the president of the company and the main associate of promoter Mohit Goel, said, “all is well”.
He denied reports that the company had shut shop in Noida. “We are very much in business, and are not running away,” he told TOI. “The problem with our office has to do with the owner of the plot who seems to be having a issues with the Noida Authority for renting out a property meant for industrial use as a commercial office”, he said, clarifying that if the landlord is not able to settle issues with the authorities, the company will shift to a nearby premises.

Questions have also been raised on the advance payment accepted by the company for future deliveries of smartphones. Chadha clarified that the company had received nearly Rs 75 lakh in online booking from 30,000 prospective customers, which it now plans to refund. “This money never came to us and was not even supposed to come to us until we deliver the handsets. That’s in line with the compliance rules of the payment gateway. In any case, we have now decided to refund this money and will go for cash-on-delivery,” Chadha said. TOI could not verify whether those who had paid the advance had received refund.

The company maintains it will start delivering the phones from April 15 at the committed price of Rs 251, on which it will earn a profit of Rs 31. “Our business plan is intact. As far as funding is concerned, we are running short cycles (of orders), and thus will require only some money,” Chadha said, without elaborating further on the sources of funding. There has also been trouble for the company from a Noida-based BPO, Cyfuture, which provided call center services for booking and enquiries about the phone. Cyfuture has filed a police complaint alleging non-payment of dues by Ringing Bells. Ringing Bells claims that the BPO failed to provide satisfactory services and its contract has been terminated.

New details emerge about HTC One M10 smartphone

HTC has struggled to maintain its edge as Samsung, Apple and strong Chinese brands like Huawei expand their market share.HTC has struggled to maintain its edge as Samsung, Apple and strong Chinese brands like Huawei expand their market share.
More details have surfaced about HTC’s upcoming flagship smartphone M10. As per latest leaks, the company is not changing the name of its One series. Some previous leaks had suggested that the company may go for a new moniker other than HTC One M10 for the flagship.

According to reports, HTC One M10 name has been spotted on HTC’s website, in a drop down menu for a customer services satisfaction survey. The leak also reveals that the One M10’s camera will sport an f/1.9 aperture.

Other rumored specifications of HTC One M10 include a 5.2-inch Quad HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and three storage options – 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The smartphone is also expected to sport a fingerprint scanner and chamfered edges.

Google’s latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow will come pre-installed on the device, along with the company’s Sense UI, as per reports.

The Taiwanese company recently sent an email to a some media persons hinting at the launch of HTC M10 which is rumpured to launch on May 9.

The struggling smartphone maker has reported a third straight quarterly loss for October-December, although losses narrowed due to holiday season demand and the launch of a new phone.

The homegrown Taiwanese brand, once a star of the intensely competitive smartphone sector, has struggled to maintain its edge as Samsung, Apple and strong Chinese brands like Huawei expand their market share.

In a bid to boost its flagging fortunes, HTC unveiled a new flagship model — the One A9 — in October to take on Apple’s dominance, which the company said was well received across Asia, the US and Europe.

Smartphone market is getting insanely competitive

Xiaomi launched a new device Redmi Note 3 at Rs 9,999.Chinese mobile major Xiaomi has said that business in India is getting “insanely competitive” at a time when compatriots such as Vivo, Lenovo,Huawei, Gionee and Oppo are expanding rapidly n the market. The chase for buyers has further heightened with top-seller Samsung rolling out an expanded portfolio and local heavyweights like Micromax, Intex and Lavalaunching lower-priced smart devices.

On Thursday, Xiaomi launched a new device Redmi Note 3 at Rs 9,999. “Xiaomi is planning to rapidly expand in India as this is the second-biggest market for the phone maker after home market China,” Hugo Barra, global VP for the company, told TOI. Xiaomi had in August last year partnered Taiwanese contract-maker Foxconn as it began local assembly of phones at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh, and at present, about 75% of phones it sells are being sourced locally .

Barra has an opinion on the proposed launch of the budget smartphone Freedom 251(for Rs 251) by Noida-based Ringing Bells. “It seems unlikely… the business model does not appear to be viable,” he said, adding that a definitive comment cannot be made as he is not privy to the Indian company’s business plans.

The company, which made its debut in India around middle of 2014, has been finding going to be tough at a time when it has also been upstaged by Huawei in China. Industry analysts say Xiaomi, founded by Lei Jun, has been slow in introducing newer products in a business where rivals constantly upgrade their devices and rapidly bring in new devices.

Barra, however, counters the argument. “Why should we discontinue a product when it’s doing well? Also, it impacts our supply chain.”

However, competition is something that worries Barra. “The smartphone market is getting insanely competitive. But we know it too well. These are the same players we have seen in China. As far as Xiaomi is concerned, our strategy in any market is to focus on building incredible products.” Barra said Xiaomi will launch its Mi5 handset in India in the next one month.

Bill Aims to Keep States From Banning Smartphone Encryption

United States Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, last week introduced legislation to prevent states from passing laws banning the sale of smartphones with encryption capabilities.

Bill Aims to Keep States From Banning Smartphone Encryption

The “ENCRYPT Act of 2016,” as the bill is known, provides that a state or political subdivision of a state may not mandate or request that a manufacturer, developer, seller or provider of covered products either design a security backdoor or modify existing security functions to allow the surveillance of their users or allow their physical search “by any agency or instrumentality of a state, a political subdivision of a state or the United States.”

No Backdoors

The bill prohibits the use of products or services from manufacturers, developers, sellers or providers to decrypt or otherwise render intelligible information that has been encrypted or otherwise rendered unintelligible.

Covered products and services include computer hardware, software, electronic devices, and online services available to the general public.

In short, the bill aims to shut off attempts by the FBI, NSA and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to force high-tech companies to include security or encryption backdoors or otherwise provide access to information on devices.

Rationale for the Act

“I was concerned when I saw the New York State legislator’s bill that would mandate encryption backdoors, and got more concerned when the California state legislature introduced a similar bill,” Lieu told TechNewsWorld. “California is a Democratic state, and if a Democratic legislator introduces the bill, I figure it will pass.”

The FBI, the NSA and other law enforcement agencies have been pressing for encryption backdoors.

FBI Director James Comey went so far as to suggest Congress might have to intervene if Apple and Google refused to remove default encryption from iOS and Android, but some lawmakers gave that suggestion a chilly reception.

A Weather Eye

“You can’t design a smartphone that would work in different states differently in terms of encryption, because people travel in different states all the time,” Lieu pointed out.

The issue is not about encryption, per se, he said. “Whether you believe in encryption backdoors or oppose them, you can still support the [ENCRYPT 2016] bill, because states shouldn’t get into interstate commerce.”

The bill “introduces people to the issue,” observed Daniel Castro, a vice president at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, and “in some ways, it educates policy makers on the issue.”

It also “sends a signal to the states that Congress is keeping an eye on things, and maybe they’ll give the issue some serious consideration,” Castro told.

“We need a national policy on this,” he remarked. “It’s not just about screwing up encryption but about how we can do national security really well.”

LG G5 Price Revealed

LG G5 Price Revealed

LG G5, the South Korean tech giant’s first modular smartphone that stole the show at the MWC 2016, is now up for pre-orders in the UK. The listing not only reveals one of the regions when the smartphone will be reaching first but also its price, which LG failed to reveal at MWC 2016.

The LG G5 (Images), according to its listing in Clove an online retailer in the UK, is priced at GBP 449.17(roughly Rs. 42,700) excluding VAT, and GBP 539 (roughly Rs. 51,270) inclusive of VAT included. The handset will be sold unlocked. The listing also reveals that the smartphone’s shipments will commence starting April this year, which is yet to be confirmed by LG. The online retailer is offering the 32GB LG G5 in Titan, Silver and Gold colour variants. The South Korean giant last week announced the G5 will launch in India next quarter.

LG has already announced that it will launch the G5 flagship smartphone in India in the next quarter. The LG G5 was launched along with some add-ons or modules called LG Friends, which can be attached to the G5.

LG Cam Plus is a camera module that adds physical buttons for camera operations along with expanding the total battery capacity to 4000mAh. The Hi-Fi Plus module, co-developed by Bang & Olufsen, is a portable Hi-Fi DAC which can be used as a standalone portable DAC or with the G5 to enable 32-bit audio playback. Also launched were the LG 360 VR, LG 360 CAM, LG Rolling Bot, LG Tone Platinum, H3 by B&O Play, LG Smart Controller, and LG Friends Manager.

As for the specifications, the LG G5 sports a 5.3-inch QHD display (1440×2560 pixels) featuring always-on display technology. The always-on display will allow users to check time, notifications and battery status among other pieces of information. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC coupled with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage that can be expanded using a microSD card.

On the photography front, the LG G5 has a 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel rear camera, with the former featuring a 78-degree lens and the other with a 135-degree wide-angle lens. As per LG, the wide angle lens makes it easier for users to capture more landscape, taller buildings or larger groups without having to position oneself further from the subject. On the front side, there’s an 8-megapixel camera. Other features of the LG G5 include a 2800mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0.

On the connectivity front, the LG G5 comes with a 4G LTE, USB Type-C port compatible with USB 3.0 standard, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. On the software front, the LG G5 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

OnePlus X Gets ‘Hotfix’ Update for Camera Corruption Issue

OnePlus X Gets 'Hotfix' Update for Camera Corruption Issue

OnePlus last month rolled out OxygenOS 2.2.0 for its latest smartphone, the OnePlus X. However, after the OTA update some users reported image corruption issues with the handset. To resolve the issue the Chinese tech company on Friday started rolling out a hotfix for the OnePlus X camera.

The announcement comes from a OnePlus forum administrator. “We are pushing out a hotfix for the image corruption issue some of you have been seeing with the OnePlus Camera after the last update. Sorry for the inconvenience this has caused, we expect to see this issue fully resolved with this update,” the admin posted on the company forum.

It has been added that since the update is incremental, it will take some time to reach all the OnePlus Xsmartphones. It is worth mentioning that the OTA update will keep the handset at OxygenOS 2.2.0 and will weigh 9.5MB.

OnePlus X earlier this month went invite-free in India. The move follows company’s decision from last week to make available OnePlus X in many other regions sans invite. Users in India can purchase the OnePlus X handset from Amazon India without the trouble of obtaining an invite – which again required participation in different online promotions or a seemingly endless waiting list. As part of the move, users will be able to purchase any of the OnePlus X variant – Onyx Black, Champagne Gold, and limited edition Ceramic. The OnePlus X smartphone was launched in India at a price point of Rs. 16,999 for the Onyx variant, and Rs. 22,999 for the limited edition Ceramic variant.