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MediaTek leans on local brands in India to hold off Qualcomm

MediaTek Inc. is betting on support from local smartphone makers to help it stand up to Qualcomm Inc. in the Indian market, where handset sales are expected to grow at three or four times the rate of the rest of the world over the next few years.

MediaTek has been supporting smaller Indian phone makers, such as Micromax Informatics Ltd., that have grown up around the smartphone boom in the country, offering older technology for cheaper phones and helping those companies develop more advanced models as they’ve grown.

"Probably 50 percent or more of the Indian handset market is now Indian brands," Finbarr Moynihan, general manager of international sales at MediaTek, said at an event in London Wednesday. "We can cover all their needs."

While smartphone sales in India accelerate, deliveries in the rest of the world, including China are stagnating. The Indian market could see shipments increase by 15 percent in the next few years as the global market grows by 5 percent,Moynihan said. San Diego-based Qualcomm is increasing its local investment, and this week said it will put $150 million into startups in India. Earlier this month, MediaTek said its staff in India will double to 400 by the end of this year and reach 700 by the end of 2016.

The next high-growth markets could be in Africa, where Hsinchu, Taiwan-based MediaTek is taking a similar tack, targeting local brands that compete successfully alongside companies like Samsung Electronics Co.

"These brands are so well known in the local markets, local brands, African brands are becoming stronger and growing," Moynihan said.

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