With billions of users yet to access Internet and Smartphones, India is certainly a fertile ground for emerging smartphone brands. But it’s also a very tricky market to operate in.
This year, we have seen several domestic brands (CREO, Smartron, Hive, to name a few) emerge in India. Instead of competing in terms of hardware specifications, these new entrants try to justify their existing by adding more value on the software side of the equation. Another such player, Okwu , is set to debut in India next month.
The nascent mobile brand, which was started with a seed capital of 1 Million USD, will targets ‘tech-savy’ consumers, and is optimistic that its unique Smartphone concept will help it build a loyal customer base in India.
“OKWU was conceptualized with a sole motive to help Indian audiences upgrade from a smart phone to a smarter phone. The company is striving to push the limits of software technology that goes beyond capacities of existing brands.” said Mr. Anshuman Atul, CEO and Managing Director, OKWU, elucidating founding beliefs of his new venture, “We are a stand-alone company that lays emphasis on providing their customers with an automated living through augmented assistance. We work to make a difference in the lives of 21st century habitants,” He further added.
So, what exactly is this smart-living concept that Okwu is talking about?
Besides its smartphones, Okwu will also introduce a range of IoT accessories that shall help you automate your lifestyle. For instance:
- U-Tag, a Bluetooth tag that can connect you your devices and help you locate them when required (using a buzzer). You also get alert notifications on your phone in case the tagged item goes out of range, thus preventing you from leaving things behind.
- U Plugs is a range of plugs that could be connected to home appliances and can be used to switch them on or off remotely using WiFi. Say one can turn on his Air Conditioner, moments before leaving his office using Okwu smartphones.
- U Car is another accessory that would turn your car into smart cars. This can be used for authenticating others to step in your car without a key in their hands, for sharing the details of your car’s status or sharing location.
- U Think is a cloud based application that would enable you to connect all your devices to the Okwu Smartphones and enable you to control them from a single dashboard. You can also share information between these devices. For example, you will know even at your workplace, what you have in your refrigerator.
The U-Tag will be available right from the launch day, while other IoT accessories will subsequently arrive by the end of the first operational year.
These accessories are not entirely unique, and one might argue that consumer can very well source similar gadget from elsewhere. And thus the key ingredient that will make a difference, has to be the software implementation.
The Okwu smartphones come loaded with U-Arena, which is a unified control center that integrates apps for all other U accessories in one place. Apart from this simple but significant software enhancement, the software on Okwu smartphones will be mostly stock Android. There is no custom skin on top.
Okwu is already working on the first 4 Smartphones for India covering different price segments, but will first strive to make a mark in the affordable price range. The first Okwu phone will cost under 8,000 INR. At the launch, around 250 service centers will be available in India, which is certainly a fairly good number for an emerging brand.
The company aims to retail 200,000 thousand units in the first year. For now, Okwu has invested in a manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China and will have a functional assembly plant in India by the end of the first operating year.
Making meaningful inroads in, what is widely being considered a saturated market, would certainly be an uphill task.
21 new smartphone brands debuted in India last year, and yet only YU and LYF were the Indian brands listed under top 10. This year, 31 new brands have already stepped in, with CREO, Hive and Smartron being a few popular yet struggling domestic players.
Yes, emerging brands (which entered India after 2013) are expected to contribute a whopping 25 percent market share this year (CMR reports), but the major contribution will come from Chinese brands like Xiaomi, LeEco, Oppo, Vivo, etc. which are indeed dominating in the rather sensitive and hyper-competitive online domain.
Okwu’s approach of weaving a connected ecosystem makes sense, but we will have to wait and watch to know how efficiently the whole concept is optimized and implemented.