Smartphone makers may face delays in launching models into the market due to the new certification norms that require batteries used for devices and laptops to be separately certified, industry insiders and analysts said. Companies could face loss of precious lead time, a critical tool for them to maintain the edge over increasingly fierce competition.

The new norms issued by the Bureau of Indian Standards ( BIS ), which came into effect from June 1, will impact companies that assemble phones locally as batteries are imported as separate component, which would now require certification as opposed to completely built units, these people said.

"Handset makers assembling here could face a larger issue due to certification. For smaller players, it could lead to a loss in lead time and impact them for one or two quarters," said Jaipal Singh, market analyst for client devices at International Data Corporation. "They may face inventory issues because the product will take some time to get to the market."

The government had issued new norms in November 2014, which required 'secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes for use in portable applications' to have compulsory registration under the BIS rules. The implementation was then delayed twice over 2015.

The rules also mandated BIS authorised imprinting on device, box and the carton from July, which will have to be done on the assembly line. The industry is trying to delay its implementation as well.

This could escalate cost of compliance for all companies. Industry sources said getting battery for a particular model tested and certified takes more than 30 days and about Rs 3 lakh, including taxes, in cost.

The industry through various representations last year had asked for postponing the date of compliance owing to the large number of mobile phone models when compared to far fewer testing laboratories.

"Approximately 850 models of mobile handsets, which are getting launched in India every year, and this number is estimated to grow further with the entry of more players...," the Indian Cellular Association had said in a letter to the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) last year. But the country has only 12-13 BIS-certified laboratories, which are inadequate to meet the growing demand for testing in a time bound manner.

 
The rise in cost of compliance will hurt smaller handset makers more than larger players like Samsung or Micromax , as they may not be able to absorb the cost of certification because they operate on lesser volumes, experts said.

"This is a low margin category, which will get eroded very quickly if a product becomes obsolete due to any delay to hit the market," said one of the three industry executives, who underlined concerns around delayed launches, given the competitive nature of the market.
 
However, bigger-sized handset makers, including Samsung, Micromax, Karbonn andPanasonic , said they were obeying the rules laid down for standardisation.

(This news story is from The Times of India)