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BoAt and Noise fortify R&D to counter Chinese competition

To safeguard their turf from encroachment by well-heeled Chinese rivals, Indian wearable brands such as BoAt and Noise are setting up investments in product designs, software and algorithms, even going so far as to make their intellectual properties usable to other Indian brands.

BoAt and Noise have increased investments in research and development (R&D) even as Chinese brands have begun inching into the top five. Currently, the two brands are market leaders in the domestic market for wearables.

IDC data shows that China’s Oppo, along with sub-brand OnePlus has taken over 8.5 per cent of the wearables market, ranking fourth in the July-September quarter. This was fueled by robust growth in audio products, including neckband earphones, where Oppo and OnePlus ranked second with a 26.3 per cent market share.

BoAt managing director Sameer Mehta was quoted as saying that it was important to take complete control of a differentiated product, rather than the same run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter solutions.

Despite possessing an extensive range of audio accessories and smartwatches, Chinese smartphone brands have not been able to call the shots in the Indian wearable market. But reports point to an impending OnePlus smartwatch operating on a flagship Qualcomm chipset which could be a game-changer in the coming months.

Noise runs a research and development laboratory with about 50 engineers working on technologies such as payment solutions, sensors and algorithms for tracking fitness metrics, and 4G connectivity on smartwatches. Noise cofounder Amit Khatri said that smartwatches for children could potentially become a big money spinner. The segment commands 40 per cent of the market in China.

Mehta said that BoAt spent 30 per cent of its operating expenses on R&D this calendar year. Engineering costs are anywhere between Rs 30-35 crore. The company will launch products that have been engineered in-house from the March quarter. Business Standard

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