Weston targets Indian cell phone market with affordable models

Monday, September 27, 2010, 14:15 by Tech Correspondent

Consumer electronics manufacturer Weston has announced that it will start selling cell phones in the Indian market starting in the North and East of the country, regions where it already has a strong presence – with subsequent rollouts planned for remaining parts of India later on. Weston said that its new products would largely be aimed at the semi urban and rural markets.

To begin with, Weston will be launching seven handsets, costing between Rs. 1,600 and Rs. 3,500. These phones will come with a one-year warranty. Weston said that its 250 services centers across India will provide after-sales service for the cell phones.

Sunil Vachani, chairman and managing director, Weston Group, said that the new devices will offer various features – including dual-SIM card slots, 5.8-cm TFT display, double flash cards, FM radio, double batteries, etc. The affordable cell phones will also support high quality video and audio, and be Java-enabled, he added.

Users can also expect video conferencing capability and in-built answering machines, Weston said, adding that the devices will support Bluetooth networks for connectivity.

The company plans to obtain R&D and design capability for the handsets from China and then manufacture the phones itself in an upcoming production unit in Sela Que, Dehradun, Uttranchal. The new manufacturing facility, which will be operational next year, will have a capacity to churn out up to 5 lakh GSM and CDMA cell phones per month, Vachani said. Till then, Weston plans to procure the devices from original equipment manufacturers in China – with its own quality control.

Speaking about the firm’s future growth plans, Pankaj Sharma, business head at Weston, said that the company hopes to sell one lakh cell phones per month across India and register a turnover of Rs. 250 crore by the end of the first year. The cell phone business hopes to grow 15% to 20% every year and eventually reach a turnover of Rs. 1,000 crore by 2015, Sharma added.

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