Motorola using India as testbed to diversify beyond mobile handsets

Photo by Jonathan Weiss |

Smartphone maker Motorola is using India as a development and testing ground for its smart home products, a move aimed at growing its overall business beyond smartphones. The company had last year shifted focus away from volumes to profitability due to the brutal competition in the Indian smartphone market.

The Lenovo-owned company has entered into a strategic alliance with Walmart-owned Flipkart Group to develop and sell smart home products like air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines and smart TVs in the country.

Lenovo Group is closely monitoring Motorola’s foray into new product categories and may replicate the same strategy in other markets.

The smart home appliance market in India is set to reach $6 billion by 2022, driven by the availability of 4G and home broadband services, and growing per capita income. 

“Globally, the market is $52 billion…we believe it is the right time to enter the space… since most of these are global first launches for Motorola, there is significant interest from global leadership in their launch and success in the Indian market,” Prashanth Mani, Country Head, Lenovo Mobile Business Group and Managing Director, Motorola Mobility was quoted as saying.

The executive said that India has the potential to become a significant part of Motorola’s global operations.

Motorola is looking to create a premium brand in the non-handset space by launching pricier products as opposed to other Chinese companies like Xiaomi. “Our priority is that wherever we enter, we want to build premium positioning for the brand,” the executive said.

Xiaomi has already launched products like Air Purifier, Home Robot cleaner, and is now planning to launch products like smart air conditioners and washing machines in the country.

Other players like Realme and OnePlus are also foraying into the connected devices ecosystem having already entered into the smart TV market of India. 

For its handset business, the brand is now focused on establishing its presence in the premium segment to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung. It recently launched the clamshell foldable smartphone, Razr 5G, in India at $1697 to rival Samsung foldable 5G phone.

The executive said that Motorola is quickly building its 5G smartphone portfolio globally, which it intends to bring to India. It also wants to offer 5G phones at affordable rates in the world’s second-largest handset market.

Motorola claims that it has been profitable in India and its smartphone sales grew in the March-August period where almost all other brands suffered a decline in sales due to supply chain issues.

The executive said that there Covid-19 will not have any impact on its handset business in 2020. “2020 will be better than 2019…we will continue to grow faster than market quarter over quarter,” he added.

Motorola is currently in talks with local contract manufacturers like Lava International and Dixon Technologies to make $1 billion worth of smartphones in India mainly for export purposes. It wants to use India as one of its export hubs globally, as per media reports.

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