The Indian arm of global ecommerce behemoth Amazon is gearing up to launch a private smartphone brand, Tenor, in January 2018. The development comes just over a month after Flipkart announced its entry into the country’s smartphone market with Billion Capture+.
For Amazon, this isn’t the first in-house smartphone that it has ever sold. The Seattle-headquartered online marketplace had previously launched two smartphone models, Tenor E and G, in India back in September.
In the global market, Amazon has doubled down in its efforts to strengthen its position through multiple private labels. In 2014, the company launched its 3D-enabled smartphone brand, Fire Phone, in the US. Manufactured by Foxconn, the phone came pre-equipped with a variety of Amazon services, including X-Ray, used for identifying and finding information about media; Firefly, a tool that automatically recognised text, sounds, and objects and Mayday, the 24-hour customer service tool.
While the Fire Phone was discontinued in 2015, Amazon is currently working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop Prime exclusive Android smartphones. In June this year, it was also reported that the ecommerce giant was in the process of developing a new line of smartphone under the brand “Ice”.
Another product that the Jeff Bezos-led company is preparing to launch in the Indian market by early 2018 is its audiobook and entertainment service, Audible. The service, which allows users to listen to their favourite books on the go, is currently undergoing beta testing to make it more suitable for India, customers.
Amazon Tenor Vs Flipkart Billion Capture+
Two variants of the Tenor smartphone will be available on Amazon: one with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage capacity, priced at $168.6 (INR 10,999). The one version boasts 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage and comes with a price tag of $199.3 (INR 12,999).
The smartphone is equipped with 13+13 MP dual rear camera with phase detection auto focus (PDAD), in addition to a 16 MP front camera with LED flash. It runs on a Sanpdragon 626 octa-core 2.2 GHz processor and is powered by a 4,000 mAh Li-ion polymer battery that lasts up to two days on a single charge.
Qualcomm Adreno 560 GPU is present to process graphics. The Tenor smartphone also boasts a 5.5 full HD display as well as dual Dirac stereo speakers. It runs on Android v7.1.2 Nougat.
Billion Capture+, on the other hand, is a smartphone brand launched by Flipkart under its ‘Made For India’ brand Billion. Headed by co-founder and executive chairman Sachin Bansal, the initiative is in line with the government’s Make In India initiative. As part of the move, the ecommerce unicorn teamed up with a number of domestic manufacturers and is currently working with a team of 50.
Running on Android, Billion Capture+ is similarly priced as Amazon Tenor. In addition to boasting a 13MP + 13MP dual rear camera, the smartphone’s camera is equipped with RGB and monochrome sensors that are programmed to work similar to the way human eyes see things.
Additional features include a 8MP front camera, 3,500mAh battery and a USB Type C charger along with Quickcharge™ out of the box. As per the official statement, Billion Captur+ is powered by a Qualcomm SD625 octa-core processor and has up to 4GB LPDDR3 RAM.
The smartphone was launched on Flipkart’s platform on November 15, amidst much pomp and show. The company claimed to have sold out within 24 hours. Billion Capture+ was once again available on Flipkart from November 20.
Amazon’s Recent Product Launches In India
Amazon has been pretty aggressive with new launches in the Indian market, besides fueling existing business. To that end, it has steadily introduced its global products and services in the country. First came the dedicated e-reader Amazon Kindle in 2013 followed by its subsequent variants.
Some of the services that the ecommerce behemoth has brought to India in the last two years include its popular Prime membership, Amazon Prime Video, grocery delivery app Amazon Now, Amazon Pantry and its e-wallet, Amazon Pay.
In April this year, it also launched its video streaming device, Amazon Fire TV Stick, to rival Google Chromecast. Most recently, in October, the company’s AI enabled virtual assistant Alexa-powered wireless voice-controlled speaker, Echo, entered the Indian market amidst much pomp and show. The product is available on an invite-only basis on the company’s global website in three variants – Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot.
As part of the launch, Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) also made their debut in the country. These services are aimed at enabling developers around the world to build voice experiences for Alexa customers. At the time of its announcement, Amazon also revealed plans of launching Prime Music in India soon.
Indian Smartphone Market: A Tough Cookie To Crack
At present, the Indian Smartphone landscape is majorly dominated by foreign players such as Micromax, One Plus, Samsung, Oppo, Xiaomi and more.
However as per an August 2017 report by Enixta, it is expected that by 2020, 96% of the mobile phones sold in India will be Made in India and the Indian Smartphone manufacturing industry would be worth $18.4 Bn (INR 1,20,200 Cr). “The size of the domestic mobile manufacturing industry in FY 2019-20 is expected to be $21 Bn (INR 1.35 Lakh Cr) as against $14.6 Bn (INR 94,000) in FY 2016-17,” the report added.
Having earmarked over $5 Bn for India, Amazon is leveraging the growing market for “Make in India” products to gain a stronghold in the country. To that end, the online marketplace recently doubled its authorized capital to $4.74 Bn (INR 31,000 Cr). With the goal of getting ahead of rival Flipkart, the company is also doubling down on its efforts to diversify its business. On the one hand, it is getting ready to enter the online food retail and grocery market, while on the other hand, it is eyeing a piece of the Indian digital payments pie with Amazon Pay. The launch of its private smartphone label Tenor will, therefore, be another weapon in its arsenal against Flipkart.
(The development was reported by ET)