by Rohin Dharmakumar, Forbes India
“How will Micromax spot the next generation of technology that may be portable or wearable? Maybe instead of a larger screen there will be no screen at all. How will they compete?” says Horace Dediu, founder of mobile analyst firm Asymco. Given the pace of innovation and competition in the smartphone space, his questions ought to worry Micromax.
By way of answer, Rahul Sharma, 37, one of the four co-founders of Micromax, talks about two of his yet-unreleased potential blockbusters, neither of which is a remainder of a competitor’s strategy.
The first is a hybrid device that combines two vastly different products into one. Yawn, you probably think. Haven’t those been around for a couple of years now?
Not like this one: It features two full-scale and side-by-side operating systems and chipsets—a global first. “I want to attack the IT industry from the sidelines,” he says, refusing to reveal the name of this product.
Another creation he shows is a full-featured smartphone with a battery life of seven days—wishful thinking when today’s smartphones need to be charged multiple times a day. “Even then, mobile phone hardware is going to become like PC hardware. It is commoditised—what else can you add now?” asks Sharma.
Like the PCs got eaten up by the tablets and smartphones of the “post-PC world”, so too will smartphones one day. What then?
“Why can’t we build the next Flipkart without replicating their backend infrastructure? I have got millions of customers, many of whom use 5-inch devices which are great for shopping. We are figuring out how to sell them products though; for example, a white-labelled e-commerce site whose fulfilment is handled by someone else and I get a cut out of every transaction,” says Sharma. “Customers, on the other hand, will want to use Micromax phones because they get exclusive offers and services.”
He claims to make close to Rs 100 crore annually by charging developers for downloads and exclusive apps on Micromax’s proprietary Android store (which coexists with Google’s Play Store on its phones).
“We are working on an app that can translate a conversation from English to Hindi in real-time, as it is being spoken. We are working on our own currency so we don’t need to rely on operator billing. We want to buy software companies,” says Sharma. “In the next five years, our software division will earn more than the hardware. The future lies in the internet—I’m 200 percent convinced of that.”
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(c) 2013 Forbes India. Reproduced with permission from Forbes India.