Q. Smartron is two years old now and you got two devices – the t.phone and t.book, in the market. Now you launched your first phone – SRT Phone – this year. What are the learning in last two years?
We knew from day one that we are taking a very challenging task of building India’s first platform based OEM brand in a market that is flooded with Chinese brands. Also India is a capital intensive market. We understood that. Its about time. We took a strong and bold stance and asked ourselves how we can leverage the same engineering talent that is being exploited by various companies. We wished to use the same talent to build a global Indian company. The first two years we spent on building our R&D and that’s how Smartron was born as a truly locally designed and engineered brand. Its a great achievement to develop 2 products from scratch in just two years, and we are proud of that. The last two years was all about R&D. The learnings for this year would be to focus more on sales and marketing.
Q.You talk so much about your R&D. Can you elaborate on that?
Last two years we spent 90% of our investment in R&D and 10% in everything else. We have grown from zero to 300 plus members in the organization and really focused on industrial design of the products. Whether a product is metal or non-metal is no big issue, but the overall finish of the products is amazing. There is a character, there is a language in our products. At the end of the day every device is a device but what the users care more about is the overall experience it offers to them.
The experience comes from the look and feel of the design, and then what comes is the strong back end TronX platform that we have developed for our products including the cloud based support system, the t.store or the forum. As we are launching more and more products this year, you will see a lots of new and customised offerings for our users, some of them are at personal level that includes professional services, financial services, health services and many more. This will come with the new Smartron TronX 2.0 platform that will be launched later this year. You will see that we have developed a platform at par with Amazons of the world, Googles of the world. It integrates natural language processing, voice capabilities and great deal of human intelligence.
Q. On a organizational level what are the new things you are doing?
Well, besides continuously building our R&D strength, we started this year with all the long term actions. We got former Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha on board, then we acquire the 3G & 4G patent license from Qualcomm so that we get access to the top notch technologies. We could still have developed products without this licenses but we wanted the original technologies in its best shape to be used in our products, we wanted cutting edge technologies being developed by Qualcomm to be in our devices. This also helps us in getting first hand access to newer technologies. Third, we got on board Amit who headed Motorola India and played a significant role in re-establishing the brand in the country. So, I believe we are on the right track.
Q. Besides the devices, what are the other things being planned?
There are three things we are building. One, and the most important one, is the Smartron TronX core engine we have developed that aims to deliver a one of kind integrated services or you can call it experience. Its more into intelligent experience. The devices would predict what you need next, how you are going to behave in the future, and all this the platform understands by understanding you, from your past behavior, your usage pattern and your interactions with the machine or devices.
Second is the touch points or the devices. Then the third element will come little later that is build on IoT. It could be offering you your smart home or smart office, smart cities, retail, energy etc. So essentially, what we are planning to do is how we can, using our back end platform, provide these kind experiences to end users as well as enterprises, through our devices or touch points.For example, providing you a smart banking service, smart health services, smart automation. We have 8 verticals. Personal, smart home, smart health, smart utilities, automotive, infrastructure and agriculture.
Q. Is it just a Sachin branded smartphone or has he contributed to this SRT Phone in any way, may be in design, colour, specs or anything?
Its multifold. The whole concept of SRT Phone itself came from him. Its not like we went to him and suggested that we are going to bring a phone on your name, and can you be the ‘sales person’? Its the other way round. He is very passionate about India and he always wanted an Indian brand to scale the global heights. That’s why he got involved with us from the very beginning. He asked us how can we bring a device that can talk with my fans, my followers. He looked at two of our products and found they are high priced. So he said can we develop a device that can be a gift to his fans and it should be for masses and at the same time without compromising on the quality of the device or the performance of the device. That’s how the Smartron SRT Phone was born.
So if you look at the SRT Phone, it has not compromised on quality on the same bench mark that users have started associating with our brand. The kind of chip set we used, the top end of 600 series Snapdragon, you only see this in Rs 20,000 price category. Besides, the storage, the camera, the body, and then all the services of Smartron, we have not compromised with the quality at all. You can see that in all the benchmark tests, and it beats hands down all other devices in this category or a category a notch above. And that was the mandate from Sachin – the device should be for my fans and at the same time it should not compromise on quality. And then, the back cover idea has come from him. That’s why we build this phone with a detachable back cover so that his fans can use the special, Sachin-signature back covers on their phones.