Indian handset manufacturer Micromax has tied-up with Mumbai-based MoFirst Solutions to offer translation and transliteration services with messaging on its phones and also provide access to about 10,000 local language apps available on MoFirst’s App Bazaar, reports The Economic Times. It needs to be mentioned here that MoFirst’s website mentions that App Bazaar has over 5000 Indic apps and content. MoFirst Solutions’ Swipe technology is being used for this, which can translate and transliterate a message in 10 Indian languages with a simple swipe on the smartphone screen – swipe left to transliterate, swipe right to translate.
The report mentions that App Bazaar currently features frequently used apps such as Skype, among others, in 10 Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odiya and Gujarati. MoFirst’s website also mentions that users can pay for paid apps on App Bazaar through carrier billing, though it’s not clear which telecom operators it has tie-ups with. Apparently, Mo First has publishing tie-ups with Microsoft, Gameloft, EA Games, Disney, Zapak and Sony Music among others for content and is working with app developers to increase the number of Indic apps on the App Bazaar.
Micromax has also introduced MoFirst’s Android-based Indic language OS Firstouch in its recently launch Canvas Unite 3 phone. There are quite a few Indic keyboards out there, like Reverie Language Technologies’s Swalekh, Asus’ Android Indic keyboard, SwiftKey and SMC’s Indic Keyboard among others, but we aren’t aware of any other Indic mobile OS. An Indic keyboard impacts just one part of the mobile experience, while an Indic OS changes the entire experience.
It’s worth noting that in June last year MoFirst had launched its first self-branded Android smartphone under the brand Firstouch, and had plans to launch smartphones with support for all Indic languages by March 2015. In fact, MoFirst Solutions co-founder and CEO Rakesh Deshmukh had said at the time that they plan to launch 10 regional Android smartphones in the price range of Rs 3,500 to Rs 12,500 over the next year. Since then the company has changed strategy and is instead looking to partner with OEMs rather than compete against them.
This can prove to be a critical step forward for Micromax, which has been giving Samsung a tough fight as the top smartphone maker in India. The Indic focus will allow Micromax to reach out to a larger customer base and possibly enable a larger number of feature phone users make the transition to smartphones.
Micromax’s plans to tackle Xiaomi: Micromax has been facing stiff competition from Xiaomi and Motorola in the entry to mid-level smartphones category over the past 12 months or so. In a bid to tackle this, Micromax launched the online-only brand YU through newly formed subsidiary YU Televentures. It tied-up with the maker of the Android-based CyanogenMod ROMs mobile operating system for the same. The first phone under this brand, Micromax Yureka, was released in December last year, and now the second one, Micromax Yuphoria, is set to go on sale later this month.
Micromax manufacturing in India: Earlier this year, Micromax got clearance for a Rs 500 crore manufacturing plant in Rajasthan’s Alwar district following the signing of an MoU between the state government and Bhagwati Products. The plant will be spread across 25 acres, and would be used by the company for the production of mobile phones, TVs, LED lights etc. Micromax had previously started manufacturing devices in its Rudrapur plant in April last year. Prior to this, the company was importing devices from China, where it has tie-ups with manufacturers such as Foxconn. Co-founder Rahul Sharma had said then that their end goal was to go global as an Indian hardware brand.