New Delhi: Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony is spreading its net wide to smaller cities in India to boosts its business besides studying the possibility of entering affordable mobile handset segment that uses the Android One platform.
The company’s Indian arm is seeking to leverage on the strong Sony brand equity in the market to offer a range or products — ranging from affordable mass market to premium — in its bid to enhance its position in the country.
“Our TV business has been growing well thanks to the second and third tier cities. Many of the customers owning CRT TV have just started replacing with LED TVs. That offers a huge opportunity to grow. So, both in the segments — mobile and TV, we see big opportunities,” Sony India Managing Director Kenichiro Hibi told PTI.
This year Sony India had launched its 22-inch LED TV priced as low as Rs 13,900 to tap the affordable segment for the Indian market to add to its range that stretches to the ultra high definition 85 inch TV priced at Rs 15,99,900.
“It has really helped us expand … Thanks to the affordable prices, we could grow the business to second and third tier cities,” he said, however, adding the company would also give equal focus to the premium end.
“To win the business in India, we cannot just focus on the premium segment but we also have to attack the mass segment. However, even when we are attacking the mass segment, Sony will retain some premiumness, even if it is in mobile or TV business,” Hibi said.
Sounding bullish on the Indian market, he said: “I see thousands of opportunities. The perception of the Sony brand is very good and it is quite well established in India. Having such a good heritage, we can really take good advantage through brand recognition and strengthen it further.”
The company expects its overall distribution network to touch 24,600 this year, up from 20,000 last year.
This year the company is looking for a 20 per cent growth in revenue in India from last year’s Rs 10,000 crore with the TV and mobile businesses expected to account for 40 per cent each and the rest 20 per cent from the other business such as camera, home-theatre and play-station.
On the mobile handsets business, Hibi said considering India’s growth potential, the company would look to tap affordable mass market segment and is studying the opportunities offered by a platform like Android One.
“We are always thinking how to really take the Sony advantage of technology. Yes, Android One is going big and offering products at affordable prices for the Indian market, which is big and expanding. We are also thinking how to join such a segment.”
He, however, added: “At this point we don’t have a product to offer. Only we are studying and discussing how we can develop these kind of products in future.”
Google’s Android One, rolled out for India and other counties such as Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, helped players like Micromax, Karbonn and Spice sell smartphones starting at Rs 6,399.
Currently, Sony mobile handsets are available in India at Rs 10,000 upwards.
When asked if Sony would also consider setting up manufacturing plant in India, with the government making a pitch for Make in India, he said the company was keeping its options open.
“In all of our overseas initiatives, we are always in talks to make an India strategy, what is the best formation? We are always in continuous talks on what is the best option. At this point of time we don’t have a manufacturing facility in India but in future, we will consider but no decision has been taken yet,” Hibi said.