With the ongoing 21-day country-wide lockdown in India, the government has put a stop to every kind of movement except for transport and delivery of essentials goods. Grocery and e-commerce giants are finding it hard to keep up with the pace of orders but popular phone makers such as Xiaomi and Realme are urging the government to mark smartphones as essential goods.
Industry bodies Manufacturers’ Association of Information Technology (MAIT) and India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA) have written to the government on behalf of the top phone and electronic makers in the country. They seek to whitelist smartphones and other electronics items as ‘essential’ goods, expanding the scope beyond food, groceries, and medical supplies.
MAIT suggested the government to list e-commerce giants under essential services, enabling them to start deliveries “under a controlled logistics framework.” ICEA, on the other hand, urges to alleviate transportation restrictions to allow the import and export of electronic goods across borders.
Essentially, phone makers are looking to restart production and hope the restrictions imposed on the sale and delivery of their products via e-commerce platforms during the Coronavirus lockdown will be lifted soon.
Xiaomi India MD Manu Kumar Jain told ET, “Smartphones today are probably the most essential items after food and groceries that anybody needs. We can increase social distancing and reduce the number of people going out if everyone is using a smartphone.” He further adds that smartphone sales will only fulfill the needs of the consumers in this time of need instead of pulling in business for Xiaomi.
Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth also chimed in, saying that “smartphones are essential and could act as the gateway to other valuable services” in this time of need. He’s more focused on offering after-sale services (with all healthcare precautions in place) to users who have damaged their devices or want new devices during the 21-day lockdown.
Add to this the request of e-commerce giants, who are also pushing the government to expand the scope of essential goods beyond food, groceries or medical supplies. They are looking to include essential electronics goods such as batteries, chargers, routers, as well as modems for home workers. This isn’t an unreasonable request and will help narrow losses for e-commerce and grocery delivery services.