How Mobiistar Is Playing The Game Right

Mobiistar is a nine year old Vietnamese smartphone company and it entered the Indian smartphone market barely 10 months back. However, unlike some contemporary entrants like RealMe, this Carl Ngo founded firm seems to have ticked the right boxes, and that too, at the right time.

Within just nine months, the firm has been able to produce a robust product portfolio by launching as many smartphone models; putting its money where the mouth is – offering smartphones in the highest selling budget category; hiring the right and required brains; and to top it all, building a solid distribution network.

Perhaps all the reasons are behind Ngo’s confidence who claims to ‘be among the top 5 smartphone brands in the affordable segment by the year end’.

Right Market And Right Time

Despite the cut-throat competition, if there is any market in the world a smartphone company wants to start its business from, it has to be India. Undoubtedly. It is the world’s second largest and fastest growing smartphone market. The market opens up the opportunity of over a billion customers to an company that comes visiting here.

And Mobiistar founder and CEO Carl Ngo understands this quite well.


Carl Ngo, Founder & CEO, Mobiistar

“We chose India because it is a very big market. It also has a lot of interesting happenings in terms of technology, progress and new things,” he had said during his company’s launch in May last year.

Besides the right market, Mobiistar also entered India at a right time. The market, that, once was over-crowded by more than 100 smartphone brands, is now left with less than 15 brands that offer legitimate, and quality products. The homegrown players like Karbonn, Micromax or Lava, who used to be the mainstay for the entry level smartphone consumers, have been decimated by the players from the Dragon land and almost vanished from the market.

This left the Indian market with handful of players like Xiaomi, Samsung, Nokia, Oppo, Vivo and One Plus who are supplying over 63% of India’s smartphone consumption. Then there are players like Asus, Huawei, Honor, Motorola, Lenovo, RealMe and Poco who are sharing the rest of the pie.

While all the above brands have smartphone offerings in almost all the budget categories excluding premium, Mobiistar simply focuses on the entry level – of less than Rs 10,000 – category. This category is the biggest category in terms of opportunity, and this is category most neglected by quality products.

Mobiistar wishes to play that card.

Right Products

The firm has launched nine smartphone models in the country in the last nine months. In May last year, when the firm made its entry into India, it launched two smartphones – Mobiistar XQ Dual and Mobiistar CQ. The phones were priced at Rs 7,999 and 4,999.

According to the company, the XQ Dual, that came with dual selfie camera, was in high demand from the customers compared to the cheaper model. The phones were then being sold online only.

In August the company wanted to venture into offline physical stores as the firm felt the customers who buy entry level smartphones would like to walk into a store and touch and feel the phone before buying it.

“It probably will be their first smartphone after switching from the feature phones,” says Ngo. “They might like to feel it before buying it.”

The firm then launched five models in one go – the C1, C2, C1 Light, X1 Dual and E1 Selfie. While the first. three models are priced in the range between Rs 4300 to Rs 6300, the last two are priced at Rs 10,500 and Rs 8400 respectively.

In January this year, the company launched two more models – C1 Shine and X1 Notch, the latter with a notch display.

Right People

The founder of the company wants to maintain his company lean and clean. In one of the conversations with us during the X1 Notch, Ngo had said he may shy away from hiring too many people, but will not shy away from hiring the right people.

In July 2018, just before the company’s entry into offline business, Mobiistar hired Ajitabh Jerath as VP for sales and operations for South and West market. Similarly, Hardeep Singh Johar was appointed as VP for sales and operations for East and North markets.

These two people came on board with ample amount of experience in telecom business. While Jerath had earlier served with Reliance, Nokia, Gionee and Tata Docomo, Johar had served with Airtel, Aircel, TTSL, Gionee and Titan.

In August same year, the company appointed Anirudhha Deb As Chief Marketing Officer. He comes with over 16 years of experience in advertising and marketing communication. He had served companies like Cheil SW Asia and Lowe, and worked for clients like Uniliver, KFC, Ministry of Tourism, Nestle, Vodafone and LG.

Right Distribution Strategy

Though the company entered India launching its products on online platform, it soon realised that the entry to mid-segment phone buyers would prefer a physical store and buy the product the moment they hand out their hard-earned money. They do not want to wait two to three days to see their smartphones.

By August the company was present in 1000 retail outlets and with that strength it launched five smartphones. By January 2019, when Mobiistar launched its latest products – C1 Shine and X1 Notch, the firm had 470 distributors on board. The company claims it’s products are available at over 37000 retail outlets of 475 cities and towns in 27 states.

What Lies Ahead

There is no doubt that the company entered the Indian market at the right time, and fortunately, there is a big vacuum in the smartphone segment left by the Indian players that can be filled up by Mobiistar. But the firm is not immune to the prevailing market conditions and it may similar mistakes like its Indian counterparts – of not feeling the pulse of the customers and not anticipating the future needs.

Though the company is claiming to grow at 20% month over month, a comprehensive approach comprising of right products with latest technologies and new features, right pricing and serving to right customers, will help the firm sustain the growth.

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