The planned 5G rollout could be an opportunity for the smartphone maker Lava which is preparing itself for this next technological leap. Going in the next year early, Lava will launch affordable 5G-enabled handsets above ₹10,000 to fuel mass adoption and similarly its 4G smartphones would be priced below ₹10k category. It was told to us by Sunil Raina, President and Business Head, Lava International, in an exclusive interaction. Lava is probably the only surviving and thriving Indian brand in the mobile domain today.
Lava is planning to launch three to five 5G-enabled smartphones by the end of FY 2022-23. Lava currently uses MediaTek chipsets only but said that it will explore possibilities with the US-based chipset maker Qualcomm as well for its future devices.
Lava launched its first 5G smartphone last year called the Agni 5G. Powered by MediaTek Dimensity 810 chipset, the Agni 5G offered an alternative to the Indian users among the cluttered Indian smartphone market dominated by the Chinese players.
Lava is among the Production Linked Incentives (PLI) contenders in the smartphone industry in which government will provide benefits to the smartphone makers for reaching a certain level of revenue or production level or both. “We are in the middle of the process, can’t give specific numbers of the same,” said Raina.
On design-led manufacturing, Lava said that it will be one of the companies in the country with its phones being market ready. “We are on the line to make our phones more relevant to Indian networks.”
The 5G rollout could see the prices of devices and services going up but with more devices coming in from every corner it will eventually come down, feels Raina. The gap is eventually going to get narrowed down.
Lava is also a dominant player in the feature phone segment with nearly six crore people still using its feature phones. To cater that segment of feature phone users, Lava is working on 4G enabled feature phones and ultra-low end smartphones.
It has deep penetration in the rural areas with its extensive network of stores.
On competition in the market, he told, “Earlier one of the issues was the lack of capabilities to build phones in the country. Ever since we have got design and manufacturing in our control we have seen drastic changes in the quality of our phones.”
It is also working seriously on wearables and hearables segment. “Our big focus will be on the line of accessories,” added Mr. Raina. Lava also exports its smartphones and features phones to other countries.
On the Union Budget 2022 he said, “Component ecosystem needs to be strong, and incentivising design manufacturing in India.”
As the smartphone aims EV space also, Lava does not intend to venture into it now. “There is no recent plan of entering the EV Sector. For us focus is the definition of excellence, and that is why we have the maximum number of assets on ground,” concluded Raina.
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