Suresh Krishnamoorthy

Replacement culture is growing and phone makers are coming out with new models

HYDERABAD: After having gotten over the initial novelty of carrying a mobile phone, the focus is now on having phones that come as slim as they can and are feature-rich. And concentrating on this aspect, phone makers are also coming out with new business models.

According to Rajiv Khanna, CEO, Meridian Mobile, the replacement market has not yet caught up in India. "In most nations, customers can simply return their phones and opt for something better if they feel so, for a very small charge. In India it is growing slowly. But to entice people, we know our products have to be fully-loaded. That's why models keep changing constantly."

After a year in operation, Meridian Mobile, part of the UK-based Meridian Group that is known for its `Fly' brand of phones is upbeat. In one year since launch last May 10, the company sold about 85,000 pieces. From four models there are now 17 different phones available and 17 more are due in the next few months.

The phones that were launched two years ago in East and Central Europe and are sold in a dozen countries including United Kingdom, Spain and South Asia. Meridian does not have distributors, but instead believes in its ISP (In-Shop Promoters) model. In India they are aggressively sold in five cities and has over 500 ISPs.

With growing visibility in stores like Lifestyle, Pantaloon, Subhiksha, Phone Shoppe and other stores, Mr. Khanna said they plan to launch models between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 5,000.