India’s leading retailers refuse to sell Google Android One handsets

India’s leading retailers have refused to sell Google’s Android One handsets in India since the US company chose to launch its products online.

Tata-owned Croma, Future Group, Planet M Retail and Next Retail, BigC, Lot Mobiles, Reliance Retail and Sangeetha Mobiles have not stocked any of the three Android One smartphones launched. These industries together operate more than 1,800 stores.

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Micromax, Karbonn and Spice, the three Android One makers, used the online platform to launch the Android One handsets in mid-September, but recently decided to switch to physical stores as sales failed to grab market share.

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“Since Android One decided not to sell in physical stores during its launch, we as part of modern trade, have decided not to stock Android One either,” said Sangeetha Mobiles MD Subhash Chandra.

Google started the Android One initiative to increase adoption of smartphones in emerging markets with India being the first country where it is being started.

Just after the launch in September, smaller retailers had threatened to boycott Android One devices through their stores.

The three first-generation handsets, currently priced between Rs 5,885 and Rs 6,499, codeveloped with the three Indian vendors were launched through online retailers Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal.

4,80,000 Android One smartphones were imported into India since the launch in mid-September, which is about 3% of the total number of smartphones imported into the country, as per Cybex Exim Solutions.

Spice and Karbonn, however, said sales have gone up after they decided to sell their Android One devices offline. Spice estimates that almost 80% of the one lakh units it has sold till now are from offline, while Karbonn is reporting almost 3,000 units per day sales from offline trade compared with 500 units sold online daily.

Industry tracker Counterpoint Research recently said in a report that Android One sales are expected to improve with offline sales, and will get better if there’s a price reduction and more devices are launched.

The researcher estimates that cumulative Android One shipments may hit the million-mark by the end of the year.


Vishal Kawadkar


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