Mobile Telephony: Knockoff cellphone firms making a pile

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By Sanu Nair

But Minister of Communications and IT, A Raja, has hinted at a crackdown on the grey market and growing imports — currently eight million sets per month. He has written to senior ministry officials, asking them to “promote the growth of manufacturing” in India, “and not merely re-branding and redistribution”. He also wants to know what measures are being taken to “restrict import of phones”.

His letter comes at a time when Micromax, Spice and Karbonn have eaten considerably into the leaders’ share. Their share has risen from 2 percent in 2008-09 to 11 percent in 2009- 10, according to the annual survey by Voice & Data. In the same period, Nokia’s share fell from 64 percent to 52.2 percent.

Handset importers are sore. “This shows that some people are trying to stifle the competition,” says SN Rai, director, Lava. He adds,“We are willing to shift our production to India. But we need time for that.” Nokia’s spokesperson, meanwhile, told TEHELKA, “We invested millions of dollars in our Chennai plant, employing close to 8,000 people. This step will make the market competitive, aiding growth.”

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