Low-end Market in Flux


It is estimated that there are currently around 120 Taiwanese motherboard brands in the Indian market. Out of these, at any given point of time, six or seven brands tend to be visible.
p____p Brands may come and brands may go. As far as the Indian market is concerned though, price seems to be the primary factor affecting mobo sales, and brand loyalty does not seem to be in vogue.
p____p This has a lot to do with system integrators and assemblers trying to earn better margins. In the process, quality is often compromised and this is where cheap, low-end motherboards enter the picture.
p____p While the Taiwanese motherboard brand, “Tomato”, considered “the cheapest of the cheap” and technically inferior is on its way out, other Taiwanese brands like Asus, ECS and DFI are considered excellent in terms of quality.

The Suspect Imports

So, how are imported goods in comparison with low-end Taiwanese brands? According to resellers, some distributor brands do not really come out with flying colors.
p____p In fact, these brands are not only stunningly dubious in terms of quality, but also tend to be the cheapest bootlegged Taiwanese motherboards �branded� here in Mera Bharat Mahan. Talk about hawking cheap moonshine in pirated Scotch bottles, with the national anthem for background music!
p____p This is precisely the case with bhoomi mobo brands like Krypton, which is promoted by the Mumbai-based Priya International. Within a short span of time, Krypton has earned notoriety for its technical inferiority, if sources in the reseller community are to be believed.
p____p Because of this, it is sold only in a few isolated pockets of C- and D-class cities, where awareness may be low. Resellers, who had heard about Krypton, said that they were not really keen on stocking its mobos.
p____p Resellers also confirmed the dubious quality of other bhoomi brands such as Vintron and Microtek. This perception is borne out from the number of resellers stocking the companys� products.
p____p Then there are other distributor mobo brands like iBrain, which is being promoted by The Best.
p____p “We do sufficient numbers,” was all that The Best was willing to say. However, inquiries with resellers drew a blank. Not many seem to have heard of the brand.
p____p It is also learnt that SES has put on hold, plans to promote its Javelin range of motherboards.

Best-made is Foreign-made

Coming back to well-known vilayati brands, Kobian�s Mercury brand rules the roost with an estimated 35 percent market share throughout the country. Mercury motherboards come with a one-year warranty and are nearly Rs 1,500 cheaper than other brands, making them an attractive proposition. The Mercury 815 E for P III sells for Rs 3000, while its P4 mobo sells for Rs 4000.p____p According to Rajeev Chaudhuri, associate vice president of SES Technologies, while Mercury has a 35 percent market share, HIS has managed to garner a 30 percent market share in the western regions of the country. C. Raj Gurjar, managing director, Maxtone Electronics confirmed Chaudhuri�s assessment and stated that seven His models sell in India.
p____p There are His motherboards based on the 810 chipset for the Celeron processor and an 810 E model for PIII, all in the price range of Rs 2900. His is pure value for money and the brand is also known for its quality.
p____p A mix of channel partners like systems integrators, assemblers, as well as end users buy His motherboards. “Some OEMs also buy from us,” says Gurjar, though he did not want to take names.p____p Among some of the His products that are moving fast are its Via chipset-based P4 compatible mobo, which sells for just Rs 3500. The 810 E Via chipset-based P4 compatible mobo is believed to be the largest-selling His mobo.

The Desi-Phoren Connection

While pure desi brands have not created too many ripples in the market, brands originating through a desi-phoren connection seem to be doing much better.
p____p The D-Link-Gigabyte co-branded mobos are a good example. D-Link is also one of the few brands manufactured in India with a phoren connection, namely Gigabyte.
p____p Chetan Timbadia, director, D. C. Infotech is all praise for D-Link mobos. He says that D-Link�s DGA 6I WFE, a P III and Celeron compatible model, which sells for Rs 3000 per piece, is extremely popular.
p____p Other sources in the channels also confirmed that the co-branded Gigabyte-D-Link mobos have drawn a good response in major cities as well as from the interior regions of the state of Maharashtra. This is despite the fact that these mobos are currently priced around seven to eight percent higher than other boards available in the market.
p____p Besides cities like Pune, these mobos are also doing well in places like Kolhapur, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar, in Maharashtra. D-Link seems to have encashed its brand equity as a successful networking major while pushing its mobos.
p____p The fact that Gigabyte is an equally well-known brand in the motherboard market seems to have helped enormously as well.
p____p Besides, several D-Link resellers are known to bundle its motherboards along with the brand�s networking products. Assemblers too are happy with D-Link-Gigabyte mobos. D-Link is also known to give good after sales-support.
p____p There is also a new Taiwanese low-end entrant called Millennium that is now available in the market.
p____p Based on a Via chipset, the Intel P4 compatible from Millennium has an onboard sound card as well as an AGP card. It is available for Rs 3800, making it perhaps the cheapest P4 compatible in the market.

That Aggressor Called Intel

But there is another major player in the motherboard market and it has the potential to even dominate the market someday. p____p The player is none other than Intel, which is pushing its mobos as aggressively as it pushes its processors.p____p According to Rajeev Chaudhuri of SES Technologies, the sales of Intel motherboards have increased in the last quarter. p____p In India, Intel has a range of motherboards based on the 845 G, 845 GL, 845 E, 850 845 WN and 845 BG chipsets. It has adopted an aggressive selling model through its GID network. It is also investing in advertising campaigns and co-operative funding along with its GIDs to promote its mobos. This is in addition to its OEM tie-ups in India.
p____p Intel also resorts to bundling its processors along with its motherboards. Since there are no compatibility issues, SIs and assemblers tend to prefer these. p____p The corporation also has a vast distribution network and has been pushing its products aggressively. Its marketing people are known to visit government offices as well as various corporations to specifically evangelize its motherboards.
p____p Moreover, Intel motherboards are priced better than most other motherboard brands such as AsusTeK. Asus too has its own P III and P4 compatible mobos. The company has mobos like the TUS IM model for PIII, based on an Sis chipset.
p____p This model, which is also Asus� fastest selling one, costs Rs 3300. The Mumbai-based Rashi Peripherals sell quite a large number of this particular motherboard model.
p____p Asus also has another low-end model called TUW EM, which is PIII compatible, and sells for Rs 3600. Among Asus� P4 models are, P4S 333 VM, which sells for Rs 5,500 and P4S 133 VM, which costs Rs 4,900 approximately. Both these P4 motherboards are sold by the Matunga-based Zeta Technologies.
p____p According to Rajeev Chaudhuri Intel has 10 percent of the market and Asus comes in next.

But Asus is expected to do well as the quality of its motherboards is considered superior to even Intel�s mobos, by the market.

The channel community feels that Asus will pick up whenever the company decides to provides more marketing support.

However, certain facts are clear. distributor and imported brands haven�t succeeded in the low-end motherboard market.

As things stand today, the market is dominated by Mercury, with Intel growing fast.

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