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Updated: December 18, 2013 08:41 IST

Chennai’s not a smartphone city yet?

Vasudha Venugopal
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A lot of people are not comfortable with touchscreens that are a feature of most smartphones. Photo: S.S. Kumar
The Hindu A lot of people are not comfortable with touchscreens that are a feature of most smartphones. Photo: S.S. Kumar
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‘Around 50 per cent of phones sold here are in the Rs. 2,000-Rs. 3,500 range’

Smartphones may seem ubiquitous in today’s age but not even all of those in technology-related jobs in hi-tech companies own such phones, reveals data from retail outlets in the city. 

According to Telecom Industry Insights-2013, a survey attempted by a group of telecom companies, Chennai has one of the highest numbers of smartphone users in the country.

“But at the same time, a bulk of the phones sold here, around 50 per cent, are in the Rs. 2,000-3,500 range, and not in the smartphone range,” said Sathish Babu, founder, UniverCell.

According to the report, smartphones contribute to 60 per cent of mobile-handset revenue in South India, and 77 per cent of smartphone revenues are from Android phones.

In India, the smartphone market size, which was 5 per cent in 2011, grew to 18 per cent in 2013 and is expected to touch 44 per cent in 2014.

However, in Chennai, the fastest-moving phones are in the Rs. 10,000-Rs. 12,000 range and belong to the Nokia and Samsung series, said Mr. Babu.  

“Smartphones, to a lot of people, mean just touchscreens, and many users are not comfortable with them. So, they ask for phones without touchscreens,” he said.

According to senior IT officials, another reason many IT professionals prefer simpler models is, many companies do not permit the use of phones with cameras or GPRS in project areas due to security concerns. 

“I use a Nokia 2210 for calls and messages. I need to make long calls, and a smartphone’s battery lasts hardly a day. For internet use, I have my laptop,” said Bharath Natarajan, senior sales president of an IT firm.

Some prefer simpler phones for very practical reasons. “I love texting, but who wants to use such small keys. Also, I am not into apps,” said Janaki Rajeev, a management consultant who recently traded in her Blackberry for a Nokia 1508. 

Rama Subramaniam, a telecom trade analyst, said many users, including professionals, lack comprehensive understanding of smartphones and use just about 10 per cent of the features.

“The urge to update apps, synchronise data with accounts and make communication and connectivity easier through smartphones is not prevalent among many users,” he said.

Feature phones that have basic features such as GPS, camera, MP3 player and some kind of internet access are popular among many sections of professionals who are yet to get comfortable with smartphones, he said.

Veena Shankar, a software developer, uses her laptop for quick emailing and tweeting and has a ‘dumb phone’ in her bag.

“I use my laptop because it is less expensive to do so. Using smartphones without monitoring your data plan can lend a big blow to your monthly budget,” she said.  

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