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“Sachin Always Wanted An Indian Brand Scale Global Heights” : Mahesh Lingareddy, Founder, Smartron

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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?

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Mahesh Lingareddy, Founder Chairman, Smartron

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.

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Interview With Nitin Bansal, VP & Head, Network Products, Ericsson India

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Q. Why has network optimization become a critical need for telcos now?

Near-ubiquitous coverage and a fast and reliable connection are the most important drivers of smartphone user satisfaction, and therefore must haves for superior networks that stand out from competition. Given that there are substantial number of users who are not very satisfied with their operator’s network, there is substantial potential to generate competitive advantage through enhancement of network performance.

Operators can significantly enhance customer perception on network quality by addressing the top three problems: internet connection issues, app and service crashes, and slow network speeds. Providing an excellent network with great coverage and fast data speeds where apps run smoothly is absolutely essential in order to achieve high customer satisfaction and increased revenues.

Q. How optimizing networks would affect the telcos, from a capex and opex perspective?

The worldwide surge in smartphones and smart mobile devices has placed new and ever-changing demands on mobile networks and systems. To deliver true in-service performance, network design should be viewed by operators as a constantly evolving process. An optimum network design will ensure that typical bottlenecks which limit smartphone performance such as backhaul under-dimensioning and unnecessary inter-technology handovers that push smartphone users to slower networks are kept under control.

Operators can secure optimum network performance and end-user experience by continuously tuning their networks to ensure adequate capacity and coverage to meet customer needs.

It is here that Ericsson’s Network Optimization services help customers get the most out of their network investment, with the focus on network performance and end-user experience.
We are working with numerous operators across the globe on network optimization and have brought our learnings and experience to share with our customers in India. We are supporting leading Indian telcos in optimizing their mobile broadband network by helping them deliver enhanced quality of service, reduce churn and earn additional revenue.

Q. How Ericsson is helping out its customers in resolving issues around network optimization? What are the new solutions it has developed and how future-ready they are?

Ericsson’s network optimization solutions not only help improve network performance but also measure and analyze end-user experience to maximize asset utilization. Ericsson offers an end-to-end network optimization solution consisting of people, tools and processes that covers all elements of a mobile operator’s network. Our offering includes an E2E delivery platform, automation and offshoring, industrialized best practices and consultative scoping.

We offer optimization of the performance of existing or new services, for example, voice, data throughput, mobile TV, TV broadcast in the existing network (Via the Access, Core, Transport and Service Layers), and the optimization of the performance of the existing infrastructure resources (such as Base Stations, RNC s. Enode B etc.) in a multi-technology and multi-vendor (Circuit Switched, Packet Switched, wireline, wireless) network infrastructure. In addition to that, we also help in the introduction of Global competence levels and best practice processes to the operators’ network to maintain optimal technical and service performance levels.

Q. Is optimization of network different from voice to data? How?

The new reality that the networks need to cater for is not just data, but the apps that consumers’ use. To that effect Ericsson’s App Experience Optimization is a new service offering which brings the users’ app experience into focus in the process of improving network performance.

In addition to the conventional network-related KPIs, App Experience Optimization establishes service KPIs which are tailored to the apps and services used in the local market. These metrics are generally linked to four key criteria: availability, accessibility, integrity, and retainability. Armed with information correlating network KPIs with local service KPI objectives, performance opportunities in the network are identified. Ericsson’s network design and optimization experts can then optimize to meet specific local objectives and specify future investments which will matter most to the end-users.

Q. As 4G/LTE gaining traction here, telcos will shift to an all-IP network. How it is going to affect the voice as well as data traffic, consequently, the customers?

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) allows an operator to offer both voice and data to customers without switching between bands, with voice being just another application that rides on an LTE data network. Telecom companies are currently adopting VoLTE either for high spectral efficiency, which means more voice users can be provided service with the same amount of spectrum, or for enhanced service offerings such as high definition voice.

Q. Besides lack of ample spectrum, what are the other factors in Indian telecom industry that demands prompt optimization of its networks?

Mobile broadband users rely on a good connection to the internet, and this dependency is becoming even more critical now with the rapid uptake of smartphones, where connection to the cloud and access to apps are demanded anytime and anywhere. Users are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, with stronger opinions on what – in their own view – are the causes of their user experience issues, prompting operators to place a greater focus on improving factors that affect user experience.

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“IoT Seminconductor Business To Touch $15 Bn By 2020” – Uday Dodla, Qualcomm India

Uday Dodla Qualcomm India

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Internet of things seems to be on a mission mode. And if there is any company that is pioneering this momentum, globally as well as in India, it undoubtedly has to be Qualcomm. We spoke to Uday Dodla, the man who leads the San Diego headquartered technology firm’s IoT operations including drones, smart devices, wearables and smart cities in India, as its Director for Product Marketing. He also is the man who spearheads Qualcomm’s in Design India challenge – an incubator program for hardware companies. His views :

Q. What are your views on the adoption of Internet of Things, both globally as well as in India?
We see good momentum and expect further growth in various areas such as smart cities, cameras and drones, home control and automation, home entertainment, wearables, and voice and music – both within India and globally. We are also seeing products becoming more intelligent and capable at the edge – doing more locally and sending only the relevant data to the cloud. Analysts estimate the installed base of IoT devices to be more than 20 billion units by 2020.

Q. Can you guess the market size of IoT in India?
Globally, we estimate the serviceable addressable opportunity for our semiconductor business to be about $15 billion in IoT by 2020. While we don’t provide a split by region, India is important not only for the size of the country, but also for the opportunity to collaborate with companies and organizations in benefiting from the global opportunity.

Q. How is your company positioned in this scheme of things? Where does exactly it fit in the ecosystem?
We are uniquely positioned with our scale and expertise in connectivity and compute to deliver the technologies needed in IoT, helping customers commercialize their products faster and more cost-effectively. What makes Qualcomm different is the depth of our portfolio, platforms and partnerships.

Q. You company is a pioneer in many technological revolutions- both for enterprises as well as for end users. What are the areas you see IoT can serve both these consumers in near future?
Areas such as Healthcare, Automotive and Drones & Robotics will see more adoption with clear consumer benefits. We are actively engaged with industry relationships in these areas.

Q. In immediate future, what are the IoT solutions/products you see for end users?
I think we will see connected devices becoming more prevalent as technology becomes easier to adopt and deploy wherever and whenever. Solutions such as smart meters, connected cars, surveillance cameras, wearables for health & safety will see increased adoption.

Q. Wearables did not take off well as expected. Where do you see the industry missed the bus?
We continue to see the wearables segment as a growth opportunity. We have seen strong adoption of Qualcomm technologies in wearables, with more than 100 design wins including our technology. Snapdragon processors already power more than 80 percent of all Android Wear smartwatches.

We have design wins for smart watches, fitness trackers, sports watches and kid watches. We are seeing strong growth in all of these areas. We are particularly excited about the opportunity in 4G/LTE connected, location enabled targeted purpose devices like kid trackers and elder care watches. We believe there is strong growth in these devices.

Additionally, the acquisition of CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) last September has brought a wealth of product and talent to Qualcomm, particularly for wearables. CSR’s leading Bluetooth and GPS products are already in a wide range of wearables products, and they are a perfect complement to Qualcomm processors and connectivity products.

Q. Where do you see governments as a customer and how the Indian government is looking at this?
We are focused on making India an important part of our IoT product journey. We have multiple corporate initiatives such as the Ventures Fund and the Design in India programs to spur the design and development of electronics products in India that benefit the ecosystem. This goes hand in hand with the Digital India/Make in India initiatives of the Government of India.

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“India Will Add Significant Value To Global IoT Market”- Kuldeep Malik, Country Head, MediaTek

Kuldeep Malik Country Head – Corporate Sales International MediaTek India
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Kuldeep Malik Country Head – Corporate Sales International MediaTek India

MediaTek has always been at the forefront of technological innovation – be at producing mass scale chipsets for feature phones or the Helio series chips for ultra-fast smartphones. Now, the Taiwanese semiconductor behemoth is taking lead in the Internet of things space with products and solutions for both consumer IoT as well as industrial IoT, globally as well as in India. We spoke to the man – Kuldeep Malik, Country Head – Corporate Sales International, who leads MediaTek India in this eventful and ever exciting journey of IoT.

Q. How do you see the adoption of the internet of things, both globally as well as in India?
Internet of Things (IoT), especially wearables, industrial automation and home security is expected to grow exponentially over the next decade, all thanks to the smartphone boom. Closer home, India has been receptive towards IoT adoption especially with the Government’s Digital India and Smart Cities initiative. While the country’s Internet connectivity is improving, we expect India to add a significant value to the overall IoT market.  Already, we see a variety of fitness related wearable devices, automobile telematics, and “smart home” systems being adopted across markets. And though consumer adoption is still low for IoT devices in India, with innovative concepts being deployed around Smart Cities and Digital India, we expect the adoption to pick up pace. In fact, some of our partners have a few prototypes that are expected to be deployed soon in the market. Say for instance, by using MediaTek’s MT7681 SoC platform, one of key customers has recently developed a prototype for a smart lighting solution that is expected to be deployed in one of the Smart City projects. Or like how MediaTek is working on real estate projects, providing our Wi-Fi technology for smart metering and home security solutions.

Q. What are the trends you see in this field?
As per various forecasts from industry bodies, we do expect to see a positive outcome. According to a report by IDC in 2015, shipment volumes are expected to grow to 155.7 million units by 2019. India has already seen numerous players, both global and local, introducing wearable products, like Fitbit and Xiaomi that have helped to propel the market with their sub-$100 bands. We see this trend continuing. While the concept of IoT is gaining traction, from a device perspective, we are still at a nascent stage in India compared globally. In the near future, we expect a lot of emphasis to be laid on the development of healthcare wearables. On the side-lines, development on enterprise related IoT will continue to evolve at a much faster pace, propelled by Government initiatives like Digital india and Smart City.

Q. Can you guess the market size of IoT in India for us?
India is a booming IoT market given the large presence of Hardware and software services in the country. Additionally, the impetus on Digital India will only further fuel this growth. In terms of numbers, a recent Nasscom report states that India aims to capture 20 per cent market share in IoT, an emerging sector which would be worth $300 billion by 2020.

Q. Which are the industry verticals you see gaining traction in deploying IoT tools or solutions? Globally as well as in India?
A key influencing factor in the growth of the IoT market is the need to implement predictive maintenance techniques in industrial equipment to monitor their health and avoid unscheduled downtimes in the production cycle. In light of this, industries are ramping up their investments to accommodate the Internet of Things. There are seven industries globally and in India which are gaining traction in IoT namely: healthcare, utilities, wholesale, manufacturing, retail, logistics and process manufacturing.

Q. How is your company positioned in this scheme of things? Where does exactly it fit in the ecosystem?
As a semiconductor firm, MediaTek is positioned to act as key enabler in the ecosystem of IoT, because we provide the technology building blocks for the “things” within the IoT. And within the embedded device space, connectivity and network processing-related functions are increasingly being deployed combined with embedded processors in applications beyond mobile phones, like combining wireless connectivity chipsets with integrated Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Say for instance, MediaTek earlier this year globally added to its smart homes portfolio, the MT7697 – that supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and provides the highest integration among comparable SoCs, combining and optimizing DB WiFi, BLE, CM4 and RAM.

Q. Can you give us a brief about the IoT solutions you have for various industry verticals?

MediaTek is already quite actively involved in three categories; M2M, Wearables and Connected Homes, in India.

M2M: For M2M devices, we have modules from our partners based on solutions like the MT2503, which integrates functionality even further as GPS is now embedded inside the System on Chip (SoC). The processor will help power the next range of IoT and wearable devices and in comparison to other processors, this has a slim design.

Wearables: Wearables category is seeing a big jump in growth, and MediaTek is ready to tap into this booming market with a range of its wearable solutions for fitness tracker, BT notification watch, calling watch, fashion watch and GPS tracker watch.

Some of the recent key wearable processors include the MT2502, MT2503 and MT2601. The MT2502 is one of the world’s smallest commercial System-on-Chip (SOC) for Wearables. This SOC works with MediaTek’s energy efficient Wi-Fi and GNSS companion chipsets also. This means it is now easier to create devices that connect to other smart devices or directly to cloud applications and services. Recently, MediaTek tied up with Intex to power its newly launched range of wearable devices. Of those, the upcoming iRist Pro is powered by the MT2502, providing upgraded features like the water resistant build, and support for Bluetooth 4.0, and compatibility with Android 4.4 & above.

Further, the MT2601 SoC for wearable devices is based on Google’s Android Wear software. By enabling Android Wear on MT2601, MediaTek is offering a comprehensive platform solution for device makers to implement their own hardware and software, and introducing a multitude of possibilities in Android Wear devices for the fast-growing consumer class globally.

Connected Homes: MediaTek offers various solutions to cater to this category, like the MT7688, MT7681, MT7687 and MT7697. The MT7687 and MT7697 are the latest additions to the growing range of platforms under this category and are based on ARM Cortex-M4 architecture, and can be used for the creation of high-performance, low-powered connected appliances, home and office automation devices, smart gadgets, and IoT bridges. Additionally, the MT7688 and MT7681 are designed for easy embedding into small and simple home appliances such as smart lighting, door locks and plugs, and seeing a positive market response.

Q. Also, do you have some users, globally as well as in India, who have deployed your solutions or in the pipeline of deployment?
We are currently working with organizations both in Private and Government domain in leveraging IoT led solutions for their growth initiatives. It is important to note that the solution deployment is not limited to mobile alone. It encompasses the overall technology landscape. We are also very strong in home automation space, healthcare and medical. Based on MediaTek solutions, various devices for AMR (Automatic Meter Readers), POS (Point of Sale), and VTS (Vehicle Tracker Solution) have already been deployed globally as well as in India market. There is growing demand for these solutions in this segment.

Q. Wearables did not take off as was anticipated. Where do you see the industry missed the bus?
We don’t think the bus is missed yet. Delayed, perhaps. Wearables segment has seen some of the coolest innovations of the last few years, and is now a booming consumer market. There’s been a flood of wearable personal health tracking products that promise to improve overall health by monitoring activity, exercise, sleep, and heart rate. The sudden interest in wearables has resulted in intense competition, rapidly making this market crowded and fragmented, while waiting for a dominant design to take hold. And that’s where confusion lies for the consumer.  Several aspects of the wearable devices – from the underlying physics to the end-user experience – play a crucial role in driving consumer adoption and acceptance. There are many aspects of the Wearable technology which are still undergoing modifications like better accuracy in sensor technology, increased intelligence and battery life, user centric design etc. which will eventually result in adding value to a consumer’s direct personal experience.

Q. Where do you see government as a customer and how the Indian government is looking at this?
India is a very diverse country with a vast population, having its own set of issues which pose a hurdle in the government’s ambitious plans. Say for instance, regarding the Smart City project; it is a great idea and is definitely going to convert into something concrete, but the results will take some time considering the scale of investments, planning and execution this project requires to be successful. In order to meet the desired deadline, clearances need to be issued at the earliest. Secondly, due to the advancements in technology, the industry is undergoing constant changes with newer technologies coming into the foray and hence the government needs to be on top of the game if they want to succeed.

The story was first published in M2MCafe

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Interview With Md Gyasuddin, Managing Director, Hitech Mobiles

Hitech Mobiles
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Md Gyasuddin, MD, Hitech Mobiles

“Hitech Mobiles has set up its own handset manufacturing facility in India with a capacity of 3 mn handsets”: Md Gyasuddin, MD, Hitech Mobiles

Can you share Hitech Mobiles biggest achievements, innovations or milestones during FY2015-16?
Hitech Mobiles has set up its own handset manufacturing facility in India which happened to be East India’s first integrated greenfield manufacturing facility with a capacity of 3 million handsets. Launching of innovative no frill entry level Y series feature phone which is a major hit in its category and launching of premium smartphone accessories under Hiplus range are the three major achievements in FY2015-16.

What were some of the biggest trends during FY2015-16?
In the mobile handset market, the two major trends that we have seen are the onslaught of the Chinese brands and ‘Make in India’ program gaining momentum.

How many mobile phones Hitech Mobiles launched during FY2015-16? Can you give a break up of smartphones and feature phones? And tablets, if any?
We have launched almost 51 new models targeting different price points. Of them 15 are smartphones with Android OS and 35 are feature phones that include touch phones. We have not launched any new tablet model last year.

How many phones your company sold during FY2015-16? Can you give a break up of smartphones and feature phones, if any?
We have sold 2.5 million handset in the last financial year of which 70 percent are feature phones and 30 percent are smartphones.

What was the ASP (average selling price) of your devices during FY2015-16?
Our ASP is around Rs 1,500, which is slight higher than last year ASP.

What was your best selling phone/device during FY2015-16?
Y series & Pride series are the best selling in feature phone category whereas Amaze series and Air series are best selling in smartphone category.

Of your sales, what would be the ratio for offline and online distribution? And who are your online retailers?
At present around 5 percent of sales are coming from online channel. Our brand is available in almost all the top e-commerce marketplace like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Shopclues, Paytm etc. But now we are contemplating for exclusive tie up with special online only products.

Has Hitech Mobiles participated in Make In India program? How much investment Hitech has made to start local manufacturing/assembly and what would be the product output capacity annually?
We are really proud to come up with the Eastern India’s first greenfield mobile handset and accessories assembling unit. Keeping in mind, prime minister Narenda Modi’s Make in India campaign, we have decided to set up our first assembling unit in West Bengal.

The 72,000 square feet state-of-the-art assembling unit is equipped with all modern technologies and our Chinese technology partner has provided all the expertise to our workers. The unit has generated employment opportunities to more than 500 local people who are working under strict supervision of resident Chinese engineer. We have invested around Rs 15 crores and the unit can assemble 8-9 million pieces of mobile batteries per annum, 5-6 million pieces of mobile chargers per annum, 0.6 million pieces power banks per annum and 3 million pieces of mobile handsets per annum to begin with.

Right now we are importing the semi knock down components and assembling at our unit. In five years time, we have plans to completely manufacture and assemble mobile handsets and accessories.

Are you getting the required support from the government and can you highlight your demand from the government?
Apart from general excises exemption, we have not received any direct support from government as of now. We are looking for concessional loans with at least 10 year moratorium, capital subsidy, low cost electricity, VAT waiving for few years etc.

What kind of after sales support system you have? Can you give some details like number of after sales outlet, company owned/third party, what level of repair at which outlets (L1, L2, L3 etc), and what is your TAD?
We have a robust after sales support system. We are having more than 350 service center across our operational areas. We operate after sales network in FOFO basis. Our 90 percent service centers are equipped as L2 level which can repair from minor repairs upto LCD/touch panel level. Other type of repairing like chipset/board level repair, need to be done in L3 level. As a policy we have a TAD of 15 days.

What was Hitech Mobile’s revenue for FY2015-16 and how much growth/decline you saw in your revenue as compared to the previous year? What’s the mobile division turnover for FY2015-16 and what’s the forecast for FY2016-17?

We have registered a revenue of aproximately Rs 400 crore in FY 2015-16 and has shown marginal growth in the turnover over last year. 70 percent of revenue is from mobile division and 30 percent comes from accessories division. On the back of the rising smartphone penetration in Indian market, we are expecting a growth of 40 percent.

Keeping the performance of FY2015-16 in mind, what are your revenue expectation in 2016-17? What are the new innovations we could see from Hitech Mobiles in 2016?
We are shortly launching 4G handsets with some great features in affordable price points. We are also increasing our focus to premium accessories brand Hiplus. The growth of smartphone usage will also increase sales of premium smartphone accessories market as a whole. Keeping this in mind, we are looking to ramp up its distribution. We are launching a range of new and innovative products under Hiplus range and targeting Rs100 crore revenue in the current fiscal.

What’s Hitech Mobile’s export strategy for mobile handsets?
At present we are exporting our product to neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh through our exclusive distributor based in these countries. We are planning to export to other countries through exclusive tie-ups with local distributors.

How do you foresee Indian mobile phone industry for FY2016-17?
Proliferation of data usage and lowering the cost of entry level 4G handset are two major things which will be seen in the coming year.

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Interview With Ekow, Global Head, Consulting, Ericsson

Ekow – Ericsson

Interview-With-Ekow,-Global Head,-Consulting,-Ericsson “We want to be leaders in telco digitization be it platform, integration and managed services,”: Ekow, Global Head, Consulting, Ericsson

Ekow is looking at telco digitization be it customer experience management, online store experience, bouquet of services, home solutions and others in a big way. He believes telcos are late in comparison to music and travel industry digitization but they need to catch up as smartphone and Internet penetration are increasing thanks to 3G and 4G deployment by operators.

Ekow is the global head of consulting at Ericsson with over 25 years’ experience in ICE sector. He was previously vice president, Sales in Consulting and Systems Integration for Ericsson’s Etisalat Global Customer Unit based in the United Arab Emirates where he led the turnaround of the largest IT transformation program. Prior to joining Ericsson he held leadership roles in Consulting and Sales at IBM, e-Business consultancy at PwC Consulting and Coopers & Lybrand.

What are the Top 5 challenges with respect to telco digitization?
The Top 5 challenges with respect to telco digitization are: Culture, usage model, technologies, business processes and alliances & partners. Culture – Many of the investment operate in a particular way in the physical world but in the digital world it is different so culture mindset needs to be dealt in a big way. Usage Model – The transformation from physical to a digital model is not easy so it has to be worked differently. Technologies – The technologies involved are different as telcos needs cloud and analytics skillset which traditional telco does not possess. Business Processes – The processes are not the same and it needs to be aligned with digitization technologies. Alliances and Partners – One has to build the right eco-system partners to collaborate and integrate with 3rd party and OTT providers.

Does Ericsson possess complete end to end capability with respect to telco digitization?
For telco digitization one requires IoT (Internet of Things), cloud, analytics, product, solutions, system integration and services. Analytics help in improving customer experience and then making recommendations using social media to exploit the channels for better interaction and better cost management.

Ericsson does not have a complete portfolio of products and solutions with respect to telco digitization and so it needs to tie-up with partners to form alliances and Ericsson need to focus on charging, billing and provisioning solutions and also on system integration with respect to telco digitization. All these require new skillsets which traditional telco does not possess but Ericsson is focusing on the digitization story in a big way.

We want to be the leaders in telco digitization be it platform, integration and managed services. We want to plan transformation, execute transformation and manage ongoing maintenance.

What is the key challenge with respect to telco digitization?
The key challenge with respect to telco digitization is the business model as IoT (Internet of Things) and M2M (Machine to Machine) are new areas for telcos. The revenue share model or risk and reward model is also not very easy to construct as telcos are looking to derisk their investment while transitioning towards digital.

Name the telcos globally which are moving towards digital transformation?
No of operators are undergoing digital transformation very much like Amazon and they are looking at different applications. The Telefonica Group has set up Telefonica Digital with a view to shift towards digital services. AT&T has launched AT&T Digital Life which focuses on home solutions like home surveillance solutions and in home experiences. Verizon has focused on digital stores and focus is on how to make digital experiences better than physical instore experiences. Entel Chile is doing a large engagement to transform its entire user experience on mobile, online and instore to a real digital experience. A legacy telco in Europe has gone for a completely new platform developed by Ericsson for digital transformation.

What Indian telcos need to do with respect to digitization?
In 2020, 3G will cover 95 percent of Indian geography. Lot of things depend on connectivity and smartphone and Indian operators should start with digital experiences. First, Indian telcos need to improve their interaction with customers. The operators can start with the youth segment and provide them digital experience with respect to service enrollment, bill payment, service top up and also customer care.

How do you compare greenfield telco digital transformation and brownfield telco digital transformation?
Greenfield telco digital transformation is quicker than brownfield telco digital transformation. In brownfield telco digital transformation one needs to do lots of cultural change and one also one need to prepare for a large and expensive transformation program.

How big is the digital transformation market globally?
Presently, Indian e-commerce market is at $16 billion and it is expected to reach more than $100 billion by 2020. According to Gartner, digital transformation globally is around $400 billion which includes product and services. According to Gartner, operators who move towards digital will see an increase of 8-15 percent in their topline.

How are you making your employee ready to meet telco transformation?
We are bringing new people and shedding large chunk of employee base to meet the challenges of telcos. Ericsson presence in India is two-fold. First to provide solution and second is to provide managed services to operators in Latin America and Europe from India. We have the resource base to use the manpower in India rather than sending them abroad. The areas chosen for digital transformation that Ericsson is focusing are: utilities, public safety, transportation, government, media delivery, content delivery and managing India operations.

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Interview With Sunil Lalvani, President, Qualcomm India

Sunil Lalvani – Qualcomm

Interview-With-Sunil-Lalvani,-Head,-Qualcomm-India“Qualcomm India plans for playing a key role in Make in India by facilitating Design in India for devices”: Sunil Lalvani, President, Qualcomm India

How is Qualcomm supporting Digital India and Make in India initiatives of the government?
The government’s vision is Digital India and Make in India and we are promoting it through engineering presence, design houses and Q Prize Make in India where the prize money was Rs 2 crore equity investment. The talent exists in the country as we have engineering presence in India and we do lot of chipsets capabilities and skillsets related to mobility.

Design in India is the core for Qualcomm and we have a larger role to play. We work with local engineering expertise and work with design houses based on the end product right from component selection, hardware placement on PCB, hardware testing and others. Qualcomm facilitates all these through QRD (Qualcomm Reference Design) for OEMs and local development of hardware.

How do you see mobile phone or smartphone manufacturing in India?
Indian consumers need more smartphone than what India can produce and one needs to speed up the manufacturing process. Qualcomm Reference Design helps in providing architecture or framework for building smartphone.

What kind of localization is being promoted by Qualcomm partners in India?
Car Infotainment, wearables, automotive and healthcare are emerging and Qualcomm is working on all these with respect to localization and customization.

BORQS, headquartered in Bangalore is a design house focused on making ruggedized phone for the international market. The company focuses on PCB, hardware layout, component selection, RF testing and others. BORQS Reference Board for ruggedized tablet is used not only for Indian but global market. The company is also doing wearable reference design for smart watches.

In case of Reverie, the local investment by Qualcomm Ventures has helped the company to come out with solutions that provide real time transliteration and offline translation in 14 languages. Plans are to support 50 languages and this will include 22 Indian languages.

In case of Innominds, the focus is on healthcare or medical applications whereas in case of KPIT it is car infotainment. Innominds is another design house focused on PoS (Point of Sales), medical and education solutions.

How do you see India’s smartphone growth in 2016?
In India, smartphone is growing much faster and the price delta between 3G and 4G smartphone is coming down. Lots of consumers using 3G is planning to use 4G smartphone. The carrier eco-system is moving fast as carriers like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio are fuelling 4G uptake.

First time feature phone users are also moving to 4G instead of 3G for better experience and better video. For the first time users, upgrade and uptake is moving significantly and we are also seeing 4G smartphone price points at $100 for many brands.

Qualcomm is focusing on all segments and we cater to all pricing tiers as per consumers requirement. Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 has Sense ID biometrics technology designed to make more accurate and reliable authentication possible for smartphones and is patented by Qualcomm. Offering higher levels of security and enhanced authentication experiences, these technologies, including the Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID biometrics platform and Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID fingerprint technology are leading the way for securing one’s device.

For benchmarking consumer buying behaviour the focus is on different parameters – camera technology, processor, battery life, downlink and uplink speeds. From our perspective, it’s not about price but it’s about the features and what we bring in as technology differentiators.

What are Qualcomm India plans for 2016?
For 2016, Qualcomm India plans for playing a key role in Make in India by facilitating Design in India for devices such as smartphones, wearables and tablets. Qualcomm Ventures has plans to invest up to $150 million in Indian startup companies across all stages.

For global and Chinese OEMs, the focus is on QRD architecture and localization. There is focus on driving consumer awareness about the superior features of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors and its benefits through online and offline channel partners. The engineer services group focus is on operators and carriers for improving 4G Plus and 4G network.

On the corporate level the focus is on 5G, application eco-system and content eco-system.

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Interview With Praveen Valecha, regional director, APAC, Alcatel One Touch

Praveen Valecha – Alcatel One Touch

Interview-With-Praveen-Valecha,-Regional-Director,-APAC,-Alcatel-One-Touch“Alcatel One Touch plans to focus on IDOL 4 Series, POP 4 Series, PIXI 4 Series and PLUS 10 for 2016”: Praveen Valecha

How do you see the Indian mobile phone industry for 2016? What are some of the biggest trends and developments you saw during 2015?
Currently open market is flooding with Chinese mobile phones and on e-commerce platform price war has begun. For Alcatel we are focused on bringing innovations to our consumers at affordable price for 4G. 4G will be our strength for 2016. Apart from adding innovative products to our portfolio and enhancing consumer experience we are also planning to start manufacturing of smartphones in India.

How has been the CY 2015 for you? Can you share some of your company’s biggest achievements, innovations or milestones during this year?
2015 was a successful year for us. We launched various products with great innovations across the smartphone business. In 2015 we launched our first smart watch and 1st 4G tablet on e-commerce platform.

How many phones you launched during this period? Can you give a break up of smartphones and feature phones? And tablets, if any?
We started the launch with our 1st phablet Flash in 2015, then we expanded this series with Flash Mini and Flash 2. We also launched our 1st 4G calling tablet POP 8S and a very stylish Smart Watch SM02. We also expanded our Idol series phone along with POP series phones in this year.

How many phones your company sold during this period? Can you give a break up of smartphones and feature phones, if any?
We sold over 3.5 million devices, maximum phones was smart phones. We continue to grow in the market, we are not only focusing on numbers count but we want to provide our consumers the right product at the right price on latest technology. Alcatel One Touch will continue to create curated, carefully considered, fun devices at the right price point.

What was your revenue for this period and how much growth/decline you saw in your revenue as compared to the previous year?
I can tell you my ASP for the products which we sold, it was above 5K. We just want to provide a smart devices with the right price on latest technology and that’s our goal.

What was the ASP of your devices during this period?
We have successfully sold handsets in both affordable and premium price segments during this period and our ASP remained at Rs 5K.

What was your best-selling phone/device in this period?
Alcatel One Touch Flash series and Idol series phones was the best-selling and we sold a good numbers of these mobile phones.

Of your sales, what would be the ratio for offline and online distribution? And who are your online retailers?
Alcatel, Flash series, 4G tablets and smartwatch are exclusive products with Flipkart and we will continue selling these products through Flipkart. We also launch our CDMA + GSM under brand name TCL with Snapdeal. We launched Pop series phone with Amazon. We are actively working with all major e-commerce players and we also have some dedicated models for open market.

If you have participated in the Make In India program, how much investment you made to start local manufacturing/assembly and what would be the product output capacity annually?
India is a developing country and growing economy. Make in India, an initiative of Indian government, is a good start to increase opportunities for us and also contribute to Indian economy. We cannot share investment figures, however this is an important step that we are undertaking to further strengthen our growth in India. The factory currently has a capacity of creating 10 million smartphone units.

Are you getting the required support from the government and can you highlight your demand from the government?
Yes, we are getting required support from the government. The new government has launched Digital India, Make in India and Startup India campaigns to boost up the economy. And we also want to be a part of this revolution.

What kind of after sales support system you have? Can you give some details like number of aftersales outlet, company owned/third party, what level of repair at which outlets (L1, L2, L3 etc), and what is your TAD?
Alcatel One Touch has around 550 service centers across India. Where all kind of repairing level provided. Our TAD is for 1 week time period, not more than that.

Keeping the performance of 2015 in mind, what do you expect in 2016? What are the new things/innovations we could see from Alcatel in 2016?

For this question you must have seen our CES and MWC launches. Good product, latest technology with the great price point will suit consumer pocket. I just want to add one more thing that “Keeping It Simple: ALCATEL ONETOUCH Becomes ALCATEL”.

With its business in key segments and markets increasing, Alcatel felt it was the right time to launch the new branding. In tune with its target market of millennials, Alcatel is simplifying its name, simplifying its message and streamlining its devices.

What will be Alcatel’s product focus for 2016?
Alcatel One Touch plans to focus on IDOL 4 Series, POP 4 Series, PIXI 4 Series and PLUS 10 for 2016. IDOL 4 series augments the user experience with a Boom Key that enhances taking photos, listening to music, gaming and more; POP 4 series has vast collection of colors and styles and optional technology upgrades; PIXI 4 series offers a comprehensive and reliable user experience at an affordable price; and PLUS 10 has a connected 2-in-1 Windows device for unbeatable productivity on-the-move.

Do you see consolidation among the handset players in the country in 2016?
As you are also aware that currently the Indian market has divided in following category – International brand, Indian brand and Chinese brand. We expect consolidation among the handset players in 2016. Players which can provide innovative and quality products at reasonable cost will be able to survive in the market.

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Interview With Vivek Pratap Singh, Branch Manager, Ringing Bells

Ringing bells vivek
ringing-bell-mobile-vivek
Vivek Pratap Singh, Branch Manager, Ringing Bells

What is the background of Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd, the company which launched the most affordable 4G smartphone Smart 101?
The promoter family hails from a strong background of a family steeped in the rural belt of Western UP and involved in agro-commodity products like sugar, spices, rice, pulses, dry fruits and a complete menu of allied products trading over the past 3 generations. The network in rural and semi-urban India, anchored particularly in the North, is time tested for over 36 years and has endured the vicissitudes of time.

The idea occurred to the current generation to leverage this strength and contribute in a humble way to the cascade of economic inclusive growth based on the platforms of Make in India, Skill India and Digital India while leveraging the initiative of “Start Up India Stand Up India”.

 

What’s the response towards your products after you released major advertisement campaign on Monday? Any numbers with respect to smartphone cum feature phone bookings?
A very positive and a very very huge response.

When would you start the delivery of your phones to people who have booked/registered on your site?
Feature phones will be delivered in 7 to 14 days whereas smartphone Smart 101 shall be delivered by end February.

When are you planning to make smartphone and feature phone available in the open market?
The mobile phones will be available in the open market from 1st week of March.

Is the company self-funded or investor backed?
At present the company is self-funded but with plans for associate and allied funding as the business plans actualize in tandem with the cash flow cycles. Discussions have commenced with banks and institutions.

With respect to the after market service what is your strategy. Are you planning to have your own or would you tie up with any company?
In the interim, we have set up an association for more than 650+ service centres pan India. Longer term our plan is to have our own integrated service centres.

There are consumer complaints that no confirmation mail has been sent to people who have booked phones online. How do you explain it?
We received unexpected demand on our site and the system was not equipped to handle that kind of traffic. Due to some unexpected error and technical problems in our servers, we are facing this issue.

Is Ringing Bells planning to manufacture mobile phones in India seeing the outstanding response?
Yes of course. Our prime motivation is Make in India.

How big is the company in terms of manpower and how big is your R&D and product testing set-up?
We already have a strength of almost 300 direct and 2,000 indirect employees which is poised for an incredible increase in the short term in sync with our plans and market access. At present we have associate testing facilities which focuses on intrinsic details of pre-despatch inspections, quality control and even post delivery service are attended too. This workforce is almost another 2,500. As we build our own direct workforce we would also have the same number of workforce at the least.

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Interview With Rachna Lather, Marketing Head- Motorola Mobility

Rachna Motorola
motorola-mobility_rachna_lather_interview
Rachna Lather, Marketing Head- Motorola Mobility

Q. How has been the CY 2015 (till date) for you? Can you share some of your company’s biggest achievements, innovations or milestones during this year?

It has been a tremendously successful 2015 and we witnessed various product innovations across the smartphone business. Apart from adding innovative products to our portfolio & enhancing consumer experience, we also started our manufacturing smartphones in India.

Be it Moto G (3rd Gen), first water resistant smartphone with IP67 certification in that price range or bringing the world’s fastest charging technology, software enhancements and innovations in smart cameras – we focused on bringing innovations to our consumers at great prices. Moto G (3rd Gen) has been a phenomena and it broke all the sales records in this price tier. It’s sales were up by 140% in comparison to the first gen & 40% better than the second gen. It is the highest selling smartphone in that price bracket and fastest selling smartphone on Flipkart! And despite our planning & anticipation of blockbuster sales, we did go out of stock intermittently.

It’s been only two years, since we started business in the country and in a very short duration, we are among the top five brands in the country. And the journey from here is only up.

Q. How many phones did Motorola launch during this period? Can you give a break up of smartphones and feature phones? And tablets, if any?

This year has been about launching exceptional devices for consumers and expanding our portfolio across various price points. We have seen many launches starting from Moto Turbo to budget friendly Moto E (2nd Gen) and Moto E (2nd Gen) 4G, which was followed by the first water-resistant smartphone in its price range – Moto G (3rd Gen). We also introduced other flagship devices such as Moto X Play, Moto X Style, Moto 360 (2nd Gen) and finally the Moto G Turbo edition variant. All of which, received an overwhelming response from our consumers.

Q. How many phones your company sold during this period? Can you give a break up of smartphones and feature phones, if any?

We have sold over 7 million devices in India in 15 months which has exceeded expectations and shook up the traditional order of players in India. We continue to grow in the market and yet are not chasing numbers but rather maintaining our focus on ensuring we provide our consumers the right product at the right price.

Q. What was your revenue for this period and how much growth/decline you saw in your revenue as compared to the previous year?

Like we mentioned, all our devices have received a phenomenal response. and we don’t share numbers, but focus on giving our consumers the ‘Power to Choose’ that enriches their mobile experience and offers high quality at a great price.

Q. What was your best selling phone/device in this period?

Moto G (3rd Gen) has definitely been our best selling device. It broke all the sales records in this price tier. It’s sales were up by 140% in comparison to the first gen & 40% better than the second gen. It has been the highest selling smartphone in that price bracket and fastest selling smartphone on Flipkart. And despite our planning & anticipation of blockbuster sales, we did go out of stock intermittently. We also recently introduced the Moto G – Turbo edition and it has also received some great response. The Moto 360 (2nd Gen) is also doing phenomenally well in the market and getting a lot of love from the consumers.

Q. How do you see the Indian mobile phone industry for the current calendar year? What are some of the biggest trends and developments you saw during this period?

Over the last quarter, we saw continued demand for affordable smartphones in the emerging markets worldwide. The availability of affordable smartphones in emerging markets saw consumers upgrade their ‘feature phones’ to smartphones more quickly because of the small price gap. There has always been a demand for devices that cost less, but it’s clear that people see the value in the quality and design of the devices, the experiences that are developed for them and the pure Android. We believe that Indian consumers are interested in a premium experience at an affordable price point and all our devices offer an excellent balance of price and performance, giving it a strong start in the Indian market. We will continue to build on our strong product portfolio that is offered at competitive price points. We at Motorola try to provide our consumers global quality product at an exceptional price point.

Q. Of your sales, what would be the ratio for offline and online distribution? And who are your online retailers?

Motorola has had an exclusive tie up with Flipkart and will continue selling its products through the website in the foreseeable future. Recently we announced that customers can now buy the Moto 360 (2nd Gen) men’s collection on Amazon.in. This year we also announced that consumers will now be able to buy Moto smartphones from a wider range of offline and online retailers through our distribution partner Brightstar India. For the very first time, since the introduction of the Moto E in 2014, consumers who prefer walking into a store to buy their smartphones will be able to pick the Moto E 4G LTE off the shelf at select Airtel stores across the country. At the same time, continuing with the focus on our growing community of e-shoppers, Amazon India and Snapdeal have started offering the Moto E 3G/4G LTE.

Q. If you have participated in the Make In India program, how much investment you made to start local manufacturing/assembly and what would be the product output capacity annually?

We do not share investment figures, however this is an important step that we are undertaking to further strengthen our growth in India. The factory currently has a capacity of creating 6 million smartphone units.

Q. Are you getting the required support from the government and can you highlight your demand from the government?

India has not been able to realize its innovative potential due to fragmented innovation ecosystem. But governments push to Make in India couldn’t have come at a better time. Motorola has greatly benefitted from various Indian government’s policies facilitating ease of doing business here. Our manufacturing facility is already generating more than 2000 employment opportunities and creating an overall positive social benefit.

Q. What kind of after sales support system you have? Can you give some details like number of after sales outlet, company owned/third party, what level of repair at which outlets (L1, L2, L3 etc), and what is your TAT?

We have a number of innovative options to ensure that we deliver excellent customer service. Apart from launching different phones, we have enhanced the customer experience, by opening up exclusive Lenovo Moto service centre in India. We are positive that assembling our products here will provide greater value to our end consumer. Also, as we are assembling the product locally we will have spare parts available for quick service and after sales support. In Bangalore, we have the Moto Care center for consumers which is a world class service support facility where consumers can experience Motorola products as well. Our devices have Motocare App which makes it easy for consumers to reach out to our customer care executive.

Q. Keeping the performance of 2015 in mind, what do you expect in 2016? What are the new things/innovations we could see from you/your company in the 2016?

E-commerce ecosystem – Motorola has been a pioneer of the online only model and had a first mover advantage in this space. In India, we have sold over 5.6 million devices in 15 month which has exceeded expectations and shaken up the traditional order of players in India. Indian e-commerce has been booming for the past 15 years, but the ecosystem has only now started to fall in place. In 2016 as well, e-commerce’s unprecedented growth will continue and it is going to take a lead in businesses and is expected to be USD 80 billion market by 2020

Hardware Innovations – For Motorola, 2015 has been a tremendous year for smartphone & wearable hardware innovation. With our product portfolio we have continued with our philosophy of driving value through our product innovations. We will be launching Moto X Force very soon in India, with shatterproof display, which is the first smartphone to incorporate this innovative technology in the world. In 2016 our focus would continue on innovations driven towards enhancing overall hardware and software experiences for our consumers

Wearables – We are very excited about the wearable space. India will have a more engaging wearable ecosystem and we are always exploring and looking to bring in new products and options for our consumers. We’re the market leaders in Android wear space in India and are taking a long-term approach to innovation with Moto 360 and we are positive consumers will appreciate the premium experience

 

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