Former Apple CEO John Scully headed IT supply chain company Inflexionpoint will be launching a new smartphone brand called Obi in India, reports The Economic Times. This news was first reported by BGR India which had and said that the brand will be led by Ajay Sharma in India. Sharma was previously heading Micromax’s smartphone division and was at one point HTC’s India head.
Inflexionpoint Asia CEO Neeraj Chauhan said the company will initially invest about $20 million towards setting up a design centre, supply chain, sales and marketing network to launch the brand in the country, which will be scaled up gradually as business improves. The company has already spent $100 million acquiring two companies that will play an integral role in the launch of the new smartphone brand.
It acquired Iris Computers, a distributor for computer systems and peripherals in India, for leading OEMs like IBM, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Samsung, Acer, HCL, Canon, Western Digital, and APC in December last year. Iris has a network of 34 branches throughout India and it is possible that the company will use this infrastructure for Obi when it launches here. It also acquired Singapore-based Dragon Group International that deals with chipset manufacturers in South East Asia.
The devices are supposed to be priced in the Rs 5,000 – Rs 12,000 range and will compete against Indian manufacturers such as Micromax, Karbonn and Lava, apart from international OEMs such as Lenovo and Motorola (acquired by Lenovo earlier this year) that have phones in the same price point. Bigger OEMs such as Samsung, HTC and Sony have a few devices in the price range, but they are under-specced and overpriced compared to the competition.
Gartner has said recently that India was the world’s fastest growing smartphone market with sales increasing at a rate of 166.8% in the last quarter of 2013. IDC meanwhile, had reported a 229% growth in smartphone shipments in India year over year (YoY) to 12.8 million smartphones for the third quarter of 2013. Samsung is still the company shipping most number of smartphones and has 32.9% marketshare according to IDC, followed byMicromax with 17% and Karbonn with 11%. Nokia only has 5% of the smartphone marketshare, while Lava has 4.7%.
That being the case, we need to wait and see how the company will differentiate itself in such a market. Here’s a tip, decent build quality, frequent software updates and good warranty support will do the trick.