When Panasonic unveiled its first smartphone for India, the quad-core P51, most eyebrows were raised at its launch price of Rs 26,990. Obviously, the slew of quad-core phones available for under Rs 15,000 has spoilt the Indian smartphone consumer, but there’s no reason to scoff at Panasonic’s sticker. Indeed, you will find that the price is nothing but a good ol' marketing tactic.

The good news is that the Panasonic P51’s price fell sharply in the week of its launch and right now it can be bought for Rs 22,390, as we have reported. We reckon this particular smartphone will soon be available for even less as it stays on shelves for a month or so. It will only serve to make the phone more attractive to potential buyers. So why did Panasonic even launch it at such a ‘high’ price? The answer is two-fold and it has more to do with positioning of the brand than the product itself.

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A stylish-looking phone

Firstly, the Japanese electronics giant has plans to introduce smartphones in all price brackets and their portfolio for India will include phones that are priced between Rs 6,990 in the low-end and Rs 35,000 at the high end of the spectrum. This means that with their first phone the company had to lay down a marker on which to base the price of future products. Launching the P51 under Rs 20,000 would have marked Panasonic as just another low-cost player in the smartphone market and their subsequent high-end phones would be regarded as over-priced.

With the launch price of the P51, the company has ensured that it will be seen as playing on the same field as Samsung, Sony, LG, and HTC. That also means it will be positioned slightly ahead of Micromax, Karbonn and any number of other Indian manufacturers. 

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Worth the buy?

Secondly, (and let’s not make any bones about it) the P51 looks far more impressive than a similarly-specced Micromax or Karbonn smartphone. In terms of fit and finish, the unibody design is a far cry from the ill-fitting chassis we have seen over the past year or so in many Indian-made phones. It ticks the right boxes when it comes to specs and is well-designed, so we can even say the premium in the price department is justified, in a way.

Panasonic would have hoped to make a healthy margin from the sales of the first batch, thanks to the high price. Whether sales have been healthy or not, only a few more weeks in the market will tell. We think that Panasonic has played this one intelligently and being far removed from the low-cost field allows them breathing room and gives them a slight aspirational edge. With more and more low-cost players entering the Indian market, it’s a welcome change to see a company taking an interest in branding rather than indulging in reckless price wars.

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