Microsoft could go after Android dominance in India; here's how

These days, everyone wants Microsoft to do something about Windows Phone, to bring some excitement to the monotonous Indian smartphone market dominated by Android. Is there any hope for Microsoft’s OS, especially when only one manufacturer – Nokia – is seriously investing time and resources into the OS? Clearly, the need of the hour is to convince other manufacturers to jump on to the WP bandwagon.

To this end Microsoft first needs to address inherent drawbacks in its OS. The upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update reportedly will bring the platform on par with Android and iOS.

Nokia Lumia 1020

Microsoft is reportedly wooing Indian manufacturers to use Windows Phone


Secondly, and more importantly, it must look for other suitors. There is some speculation Microsoft may be going the free license way like Google with Android to get more low-cost players on to its platform. This should certainly clear a lot of hurdles for manufacturers who balk at the thought of paying a license fee for every Windows Phone handset sold. It does increase the production cost and is not a viable option for companies operating on the low-cost model. Making Windows Phone license free could certainly interest the likes of Micromax and Karbonn in India.

A report in the Times of India says Microsoft is in talks with Indian phone companies such as Lava, Micromax and possibly Karbonn to invest in making devices for its OS, in addition to the existing Android smartphones. Talking to the paper, Vishal Sehgal, co-founder and director of Xolo, said "We will come out with a WP device next year. The plan is to launch with Windows Phone 8.1."

So there is more evidence to suggest that Windows Phone is not dead in India. Another way Microsoft could tackle slow adoption is by tapping manufacturers on the fringe and not just the ones who are entrenched in the market. We are talking about the likes of Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE and others, who do have a presence in India, but do not have much market share.

We spoke to Anuj Sharma, the marketing head for smartphones at Lenovo India, about the company’s plans in the Windows Phone space. “We always look at what consumers want before deciding anything – be it the OS or the processor. At the moment, there isn’t enough interest in Windows Phone but we know it is growing.

Sharma said that Lenovo had been in talks with Microsoft for a Windows Phone device before news of the company’s Nokia acquisition broke. Talks were put on hold till things became clearer and now the two companies are once again discussing the possibility. Sharma said that in the next few months, we could see a Lenovo Windows Phone device in the markets, but did not give us any more specific details. The great business relationship between Lenovo and Microsoft in the PC market should help smoothen out any issues.

The increase in interest in Windows Phone is largely due to the success of the Lumia 520, and as a result Nokia has seen a nearly 40 percent increase in sales figures as compared to last year. If Microsoft does manage to convince Indian manufacturers, it would be to manufacture phones in the vein of the 520, which can ensnare those customers upgrading from feature phones and thus increase the OS’s market share.

Published Date: Dec 20, 2013 18:12 PM | Updated Date: Dec 20, 2013 18:12 PM