More than 50 new mobile phone brands opened shop in India in the last one year. More than 95 per cent of them have had a terrible run and will wind up operations pretty soon. In our oversaturated and brutal market, where a new device is announced every day, it’s almost impossible for a company to be noticed.
So, a lot of companies would pay top dollar for the advice I’m giving away for free. Here’s my guide on successfully launching a mobile brand in India.
Build hype early. Hire a good PR agency that can communicate your brand’s success abroad, and how your phone sold millions in 1.3 seconds in some country (any country). Leak everything about your phone and its specs relentlessly to any person willing to listen, but ‘officially’, keep it all under a cloud of secrecy and deny everything. Have a grand launch event with bloggers/fans/media/a free lunch for anyone who comes/anyone willing to sit still through a two-hour presentation.
Launch your phone in online-flash- sale-mode only. Send out PR mails about your phone setting a new record in pre registrations, and on the actual sale date, announce that your phone sold out in 1.3 seconds – but don’t tell anyone how many pieces of the phone were sold (it’s usually a ridiculously low number to guarantee the sold-out tag).
The alternative plan
If you follow this guide, I guarantee that your brand will be off to a great start. But you could do something different, launch a killer product with genuinely good features at a price that was previously impossible. Three companies chose to do that recently and have ignited a new brand war. I have had more queries about these three phones in the last few weeks than for any others in all of last year. Here’s a head-to-head shoot-out to see which one can win India.
The Lenovo K4 Note follows the unbelievable success of the K3 Note. The LeEco Le 1s comes from the house of LeTV and has entered India with a deafening bang. And, the Redmi Note 3 is the comeback device from Xiaomi M which seems to have faltered recently.
Lenovo K4 Note is mostly plastic and reminiscent of the K3 Note but for a metal frame and a removable back cover (a rarity now). LeEco Le 1s is a perfectly crafted all-metal unibody phone with great engineering and fit. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is also all-metal but is more curvy. The LeEco and Redmi easily lead here.
All three smartphones have a 5.5-inch display with a full HD 1080p. Ignore any claims of one display being better than the other. It’s negligible. The display in each is sharp and breathtakingly clear, setting new standards.
The Boring Stuff
The K4 Note is powered by a 64-bit MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor, 3GB RAM, 16GB onboard memory but critically comes with a microSD card slot. Both Xiaomi Redmi Note and Le 1s have the superior 2.2GHz 64-bit octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor (Xiaomi also has a Snapdragon variant), 3GB RAM, 32GB storage but no slot. LeEco and Redmi lead but Lenovo scores with the microSD slot.
Lenovo K4 Note has a 13-MP rear camera with dual LED flash and a 5-MP front camera. LeEco Le 1s has a 13-MP 5P lens rear camera and LED flash with a similar 5-MP front camera. Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 rounds it off with a 13-MP back camera with dual LED flash and once again, a 5-MP in front. LeEco pulls forward with 4K video recording and better images in the dark.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 takes a huge lead, with a 4,000mAh battery. Lenovo has a 3,300mAh battery and the LeEco Le 1s has a 3,000mAh battery but compensates with fast-charging technology and a USB Type-C port (unusual at this price).
All three phones come with a fingerprint scanner. The LeEco’s mirrored surface claims to make it fast and scratch-proof. But it’s the media streaming eco-system that makes it stand out. LeTV’s content tie-ups brings to India free movies and TV shows from around the world.
And one last Thing
Price. Lenovo K4 Note: Rs 11,999. LeEco Le 1s:Rs10,999 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 may be Rs11,900 for a 3GB/32GB version.
It’s a tough one to call. All three are amazing phones at the price point and have made the Indian mobile phone market even more brutal than before. But with its better form factor, all-metal body, slightly better optics, free content streaming built-in and pricing, the LeEco leads for now.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, January 31, 2016
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