Micromax was once a market leader in the Indian mobile market, going head-to-head with a giant like Samsung. Then demonetisation hit India and like every other Indian handset maker, Micromax had to take a backseat and see its competition thrive.
But recently, a Counterpoint report stated that Micromax after a long hiatus, was back in the top five of the India mobile market. This caught everyone by surprise, especially when Micromax hasn’t been very active in the market with new products.
So, what’s the secret behind this sudden growth and rise in the market share for the brand? Turns out, brands can swell their sales/shipment numbers without selling a lot of phones. And this has worked out quite nicely for a telecom operator and other entities in the country.
Micromax was back among the top five brands for the first time in two years because of a large order from Reliance Jio.
"Micromax, along with Reliance Jio, has won an order from the Chhattisgarh government under which it will be the sole supplier of 5 million smartphones to be distributed to women and students in the state. " - Counterpoint Research
So, there you go, Micromax benefited from this contract, a short term one, shipping over 50 lakh phones for people in the region. The Chhattisgarh elections are around the corner and distributing phones is a common sight in Indian politics arena.
However, the report is quick to point that Micromax will move down the market share ladder before the next quarter numbers comes through.
"Shipments for Micromax are likely to decline following completion of the order." - Counterpoint Research
Which brings us to the next subject. What’s really the point of doling out free phones? Sure, it’s a smart tactic to garner votes, but that can’t be the sole motive here. Which is why it was interesting to read this report in Huffington Post that speaks of a bigger play with this phone-giving initiative.
We’ve heard experts saying that data is the new oil. Even Reliance Chairman, Mukesh Ambani has talked of this scenario. And what better way to gather people’s data than gifting phones to people who don’t have one.
The report says the Micromax phones, bundled with a Jio SIM (win-win for the Indian entities), will come with apps like Narendra Modi or NAMO app and even the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister gets a place on the device with his own version of the app.
Now the shady part about this business is that all the information was allegedly sent to a third-party domain. This was stated by Robert Baptiste, a French security researcher who goes by the moniker Elliot Alderson and uses the handle @fs0c131y on Twitter.
When you create a profile in the official @narendramodi #Android app, all your device info (OS, network type, Carrier …) and personal data (email, photo, gender, name, …) are send without your consent to a third-party domain called https://t.co/N3zA3QeNZO. pic.twitter.com/Vey3OP6hcf— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) March 23, 2018
Android apps are known for asking for unnecessary information and access to parts of devices that have no connection to them.
With Aadhaar slowly moving away from private entities since the Supreme Court judgment, the government is keen for other avenues to cull data, with the main elections slated for 2019.
These points red-flag the overall project as a privacy concern for the people getting the free phones. Clearly, there are no free lunches on offer these days.
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