The Ministry of Home Affairs also reffered to as the MHA issued new guidelines on 19th April, where it restricted the sale of non-essential items from e-commerce platforms. This means that Amazon and Flipkart are not allowed to sell smartphones and other electronic items until further notice.
The guidelines come as a big blow to smartphone makers like Xiaomi and Realme, both companies that were planning to slowly resume smartphones sales from April 20th. In fact, Realme was planning to launch its new Narzo 10 series on April 21 in the country, in keeping that Flipkart would be able to start delivering orders.
Realme issued an official statement to Mashable India which stated, “In alignment with the recent order shared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India on the prohibition of the supply of non-essential goods by e-Commerce companies, realme has decided to postpone the online sales of its smartphones and the launch of its Narzo series until further notice.”
The Narzo series was supposed to launch in March. But, the company postponed the launch due to a nationwide lockdown being order by the central government. The company is likely to launch two smartphones as part of the new youth-centric lineup with both phones priced below INR 15,000. Both the phones were also supposed to be exclusives on Flipkart.
India’s most popular smartphone brand Xiaomi was also planning on resuming its smartphone sales through Flipkart and own e-commerce website Mi.com. However, thanks to the MHA’s directive, the company has also postponed all online sales until further clarification is sought, post lockdown.
Most of India’s key smartphone makers including Xiaomi and Realme have asked the ministry to consider smartphone under essential items, and allow e-commerce platforms to deliver the devices.
As per a recent report by the The Economic Times, smartphone makers are trying to marshal its forces to resume partial operations with 25% production capacity by the end of April and scale up to full capacity by the end of June if sales are allowed in the country.
Meanwhile, the country’s industry body India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) claims that although the COVID-19 pandemic has led to production loss of an estimated over INR 15,000 crore for the Indian handset manufacturing industry, there will be no sharp decline in demand for mobile phones once the lockdown is lifted. The ICEA has also requested the central government to consider whitelisting smartphones as essential commodities and soften the blow on OEMs.