Foxconn’s handset brand InFocus to enter 4G feature phone market; in talks with Vodafone

The world’s largest contract manufacturer Foxconn’s handset brand InFocus will soon enter the emerging 4G feature-phone segment

Getting a huge push from JioPhone of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, and it has already begun talks with India’s second largest telco, Vodafone India, for a possible bunding tie-up.

“Yes, we have plans to launch 4G feature phone. Products are ready with us, but we still are waiting and watching how Jio’s 4G device is behaving in the market. We don’t want to subsidize the phone in the market, and would want to go into the open market with some opeartor tie-up,” Piyush Puri, vice president of sales and marketing, told ET. “We are in talks with Vodafone for 4G feature phone.”

The brand has a big focus on the feature phone segment, and it plans to 10 new feature phones in India, aiming to capture around 5% share in the segment by the end of next fiscal year.

In the past few months, Vodafone India has entered into tie-ups with handset makers like Lava, Intex, and China’s iTel to offer bundled voice plans and cashback with 2G feature phones. The telco, through these partnerships, is trying to protect its voice business, which contributes about 80% of revenue, ahead of its merger with Idea Cellular, India’s third-largest telco, analysts said.

Currently, Qualcomm and Spreadtrum are providing chipsets for 4G feature phones in the country. Both the players are working with multiple Indian and Chinese OEMs and ODMs have plans to launch 4G feature phone using their chipsets, having provided chipsets for JioPhone. Taiwanese semiconductor company MediaTek, however, decided not to enter this emerging 4G feature phone market.

Notably, HMD Global, the maker of Nokia-badged feature and smartphones, has already revealed its intentions to enter the 4G feature-phone segment. Ajey Mehta, India VP for HMD Global recently told ET, “JioPhone is definitely going to have an impact on the segment, and there is no question about it. We are watching how this materializes. If we see a viable business proposition, we will definitely consider it and participate.”

According to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research, 24 million 4G feature phones are likely to be shipped by end of this year. The 4G entrant, Jio, has already shipped 6 million 4G feature phones, and it will deliver around 10 million units to customers who had shown interest in buying the phone but could not pick it up since the pre-booking window was closed after the demand far exceeded the target of making available five million phones a week.