Interview With Sanjay Kalirona, CEO, Comio

Comio Smartphones, despite being a new player in the smartphone space, has already made it mark in the Indian smartphones space by launching a slew of pocket-friendly yet stylish and robust smartphones. Within 6 months of its entry, the company has launched 4 smartphones, opened thousands of retail outlets and hundreds of service centers and consolidated 2 of its key markets. The brand has performed so well in this short span of time that it also bagged the ‘Emerging Smartphone Brand Of The Year’ award at Device World 2017. TeleAnalysis caught up with the man behind Comio’s success – its CEO and Director Sanjay Kalirona. In a candid talk he shares how the year 2017 treated him and what how he looks at 2018 and beyond. Edited excerpts :

comio-sanjay-kalirona

Sanjay Kalirona, CEO & Director, Comio

Q1. How has been the year 2017 for the smartphone industry?

The year 2017 has been great as India got placed as the fastest growing smartphone market in the world. With the rapid development of innovative technologies and growing education of handsets, adoption of smartphones is sweeping across India. We have seen major changes in the features and displays of the handsets. This year has witnessed many trends which were a big hit just like bezel-less screen and HD screen for budget phones, USB C which enables higher rate of exchange of data and power, fingerprint sensor, dual cameras, fast charging, more smartphones ditching the headphone jack, waterproofing, etc.

Q2. How has it been for your company? From domestic as well as global point of view, if any?

This year has been a remarkable one for us as we had launched Comio in North and West markets of India. Comio has introduced four smartphones namely S1, P1, C1 and C2 out of which S1, C1 and C2 are now their Made-in-India smartphones. By early next year, we will be simultaneously launch in South as well as East markets.

We have been awarded with the title of “Emerging Smartphone Company of the Year” at Device World Leadership Awards 2017. Since we are receiving an overwhelming response from the end-consumers, we aim at becoming leaders in the mid-segment smartphone category. We look forward to reaching greater heights in 2018.

Q3. How has your company fared in terms of revenue and positioning in the concluding year?

At Comio, our target audience is youth of the nation and we are striving to position the brand as youth-oriented. Comio smartphones are a reflection of today’s youth who looking for a trendy smartphone packed with features and that too within a budget. This year we have done associations with Cosmopolitan, Enchanted Valley Carnival, Pune Times Fashion Week, etc to engage and make connection with them. We had also come up with our first Campaign called #DontListen Kar Daal. Through this campaign, we were engaging with young people and raising questions on the challenges faced by them in following their heart. We are delighted to have received more than 33,000 stories from India’s youth. The tremendous response is a clear indication that Comio is increasingly engaging with the youth and establishing well amongst them.
Below are the revenue figures-
1st year 2017-18: Rs 500 Cr.
2nd year 2018-19: Rs 2000 Cr.
3rd year 2019-20: Rs 4000 Cr.

Q4. Are there any hiccups/challenges you faced in 2017 and that you would like to overcome in coming years?

This industry seems to me the most evolving and dynamic. Everyday there are new launches and entries into this segment and that in turn challenges us to think beyond the ordinary. In the face of increasing consumer demand in India, the company’s strong emphasis will be on innovation and focus more actively on after-sales service for its customers.

We believe that true innovation is all about altering and creating more operative products that make life simpler. An essential part of our company’s culture lies in its assurance to develop and deliver the best products possible, through openness to customer feedback. We are here to stay longer in India and will constantly push to impress and capture the hearts of our customers with stylish cutting-edge design, exceptional user experience, consumer-friendly product development, quality service, and most importantly an attitude for perfection. We are also looking at television associations in the next year.

Q5. Has entry of Reliance Jio affected or impacted you in any way?

In order to target the youth, we have a GB tie up with Relaince Jio to offer extra data advantage to them. The detailed Jio offer for Comio is below:

  • Customer, who purchases a Comio device and performs a recharge of Rs.309 or above will get 5 GB additional data voucher on their handset.
  • Customer can get the additional data benefit up to a maximum of 4 recharges.
  • Customer can get upto 20GB additional 4G data under this offer
  • Validity of additional data voucher would be same as that of the base plan.  Additional data voucher would be credited in MyJio account under My Vouchers section for the customer.
  • Customer will have to redeem the Additional Data Voucher for use, the same being active once the daily FUP for customer is over.

Q6. What according to you are some of the biggest disruptions the smartphone industry saw in 2017?

The acceptance of Reliance Jio’s data offers and feature phones was definitely one of the largest disruptions this year in the industry. It opened up the category in a huge way and encouraged first time internet users. This helped the entire industry specially the smartphone category as it is the next step moving on from regular feature phones.

Q7. What ‘newness’ you brought to the industry during the year and what are the things that we can expect from you in 2018?

Comio had launched four budget smartphones this year in the range of 6-10k. All backed with great camera quality, large battery life, bold design and innovative features. As promised during the launch, we also began local manufacturing of our smartphones which showcases our long term commitment to India.  2018 is going to be an exciting year for us as we will be launching some new and innovative smartphones in India specially catering to the youth.

Q8. What are some of your predictions, including fears, from the smartphone and technology industry in 2018?

The emerging new trends for the year 2018 are under-glass fingerprint sensor, Iris scanner and face recognition, Bluetooth earbuds and headphones, and AR, Augmented Reality. Fine-tuning in the design and display of the smartphones will be seen. Metal body that once dominated the build materials of smartphones, but there are more smartphones adopting a glass body. More curves are being introduced to the glass body design, making the smartphones even more comfortable to hold. Antenna lines are moving towards the edges of the display as seen in some smartphones. Apart from these trends, dual cameras and bezel-less displays are here to stay.

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