PHOENIX -- With its core business well under control, Motorola (MOT) is setting its sights on newly affluent consumers in India and China. "There's a perception in the United States that everyone in India is poor," said CEO Ed Zander. "There's as much opportunity to sell Razrs the company's trendy handset as there is here."
India already has 80 million to 90 million cell phone users, and that number is expected to reach 250 million within a few years, he said at the Goldman Sachs technology conference here. The potential market in China is roughly the same size, so the two countries alone equal a market of 400 million to 500 million potential customers.
And don't think sales in China are limited to entry-level products. "We're selling a ton of stuff at the high end," he said, adding that Motorola will also concentrate on developing markets in Russia and Brazil and its neighboring countries.
Indeed, it appears that Motorola, the No. 2 handset maker, is close to taking the No. 2 spot in India.
"We came from a very small market share. We have stepped up our efforts ... we have made it the headquarters of our high-growth markets," said Simon Leung, Motorola's senior vice president of Asia, at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in Hong Kong. "We should be No. 2 in no time."
Industry sources quoted by Reuters said Motorola was currently the No. 3, trailing leader
Leung also said Motorola could build a plant to make mobile phones in what is the world's fastest growing mobile market, which has surpassed China in terms of net monthly customer additions.
Reuters reported that India, which has a mobile-penetration rate of just 8%, added a record 4.7 million subscribers in January, taking its total mobile user base to more than 81 million. This exceeds the combined population of France and the Netherlands.