Feature Phones are here to stay

While the very tech savvy generation satiates their appetite with a Smartphone, owing to their advanced functionality, feature phones have been receiving big thumbs up from the others.

Smartphones have proved to be a game changer for the industry and have opened the floodgates for innovative products. The Mobile Penetration in India has reached to the next level, where the focus has moved from the Metros to Tier 2 and Tier 3 Markets and also to rural parts of the country. According to the latest TRAI reports India has over 500 Million subscribers only in Rural India, while 60% of the Rural Market still comes under the new untapped Consumers. This clearly underlines Why Rural Market is now one of the key focussed areas for several Mobile Brands. Understanding the rural consumers, the needs are fairly simple, needs affordable handsets with the basic calling. For them, investing in high-end, costly devices might be a wasteful and an unaffordable expenditure. 

Enter, Feature Phones are here to stay!! The coveted factors why India still needs feature phones are; India is a price sensitive market and hence consumers (especially in tier II, III cities and rural areas or maybe overall) display a very cautious spending behaviour. One of the possible reason is affordability and socio-economic behaviour of Indian consumers. While urban population is increasingly growing tech savvy, consumers from smaller towns and rural areas are still marginally exposed to the technological advancement that India and the world has moved towards. The pace at which this segment of population is coping up with the advancement is considerably low because of which they feel more comfortable with the conventional way of communication. The basic need for a phone till date is to make and take phone calls for majority of people. Therefore, the rate of migration from feature to smartphone is slow and hence feature phones continue to account for more than half of the total Indian mobile phone market.

Understanding this further, Not only does feature phone serve the purpose of low income groups but also holds the aspirational value of owning the phone. Price is an important point of concern for them and feature phones turn out to be an attractive buy. Now feature phones though have a strong rural Market, but let’s not miss the Urban Population who too own the Feature phone as the second phone. Recent studies suggested among the Urban consumers 56% of them also own Feature phone as the second phone. Having said that, the majority of the feature phones, still owes it to the rural population.  Not only are the rural markets unexplored, but also majority of the population is rooted there and in future the no is likely to grow, with growing population. 

Inspite of the growing Markets, the Feature Phone Market has shaken up a bit. Entry of several new players with Feature Phones beyond the Basics has revisited the outlook towards the Feature Phones. With such changes in the eco-system, the users too have become more aware and are seeking needs in a phone which go beyond Calling. Mobile Internet, Bluetooth, 4G feature Phones answer the growing demand of the consumers. While the very tech savvy generation satiates their appetite with a Smartphone, owing to their advanced functionality, feature phones have been receiving big thumbs up from the others.

Before we dwell on the subject further, let’s understand what led to the sudden growth of the Feature Phone Market? Feature Phones define convenience and also ease of use. Not only feature phones brought stronger battery life, ease of repair, but overall reasonable data plans suiting pockets along with the phone. With rural India, price always remains the primary concern and this factor has been one of the key growth driver for the Market. Another aspect, though consumers are using a feature phone; it does bring a   feel of the smartphone too…with basic internet usage, essential apps like Facebook etc preinstalled consumers don’t seem to miss upgrading to a smartphone. The Smaller pocket size does take care of the larger needs. Last but not the least with the entry of Jio the feature phone market is in attention.  With JIO’s plan for 4G roll out in feature phones, India’s mobile phone market is creating a new category of mobile devices to attract more users to use feature phones. 

With all this and much more, the future for Feature Phones is bright. Even if the world is moving towards a smartphone the Feature phones shall be the stepping stone for India to go Digital. 





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