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Wi-Fi Connectivity In India Is Very Limited: Fly Mobiles
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Wi-Fi Connectivity In India Is Very Limited: Fly Mobiles  
Prem Kumar, managing director, Fly Mobiles India, says that with the better emergence of Wi-Fi, they will embrace the tablet market far more seriously.    
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Thursday, May 24, 2012 Fly Mobiles has been in India for a long time now but it is yet to step in to the booming smartphone market. The feature phone maker is now set to augment its market position in India by introducing its range of smartphones by the end of this year. The company is focusing highly on consumers with a view of providing them the best in the market. The firm has a wide range of feature phones priced below Rs 10,000 and now it is planning to shift its focus from the hardware to the innovation aspect of the handsets. We speak to Prem Kumar, managing director, Fly Mobiles India, and discuss the growth plans and business strategies of the company.

Fly Mobiles has been in India since 2005, how has the journey been so far?

It has been a pretty exciting journey so far and the good thing is that we have a very strong consumer awareness. We have a very strong and fair equity among the youth and urban market and that is the asset we have built over the years.

Fly Mobiles India, Maraphon, Fly smartphones, Prem Kumar, managing director, market share of fly in India, feature phones, smartphone, Android, smartphone market in India, growth plans, Samsung, future group, distributors of fly mobiles, Fly mobiles retail strategy, tablet, Fly Vision, mobile phone, handset, competition, consumer experience

How has the business for Fly Mobiles India changed since then?

The market has been going through dramatic changes. One of the last things we did in a couple of years is to build a road map that strongly matches with the Indian consumer-centric thinking. We initially started with European products in the market and didn't realise that we had to tune our products according to the consumers' need here in India. At present, the entire country is going through another major change. The new eco-system is emerging and the rise of smartphones has been at its extreme. For the past three years people were focusing on and buying hardware features, but now what the consumers are going to buy are the experience features. So, the whole drive has now shifted towards experience and innovation from the consumer-centric perspective.

Fly is more into the feature phone segment rather than smartphones. Don't you think it could be a drawback?

We are embracing the smartphone space very aggressively. Right now we are trying to do an extensive consumer research on experience innovation that will change the game for Fly Mobiles in India. We will now be trying to bring innovations as experience to the consumers through smartphones or some feature phones.

How do you plan to set up your own space in the smartphone segment in India?

I think we are very strong with the youth in the market. We plan to bring forth our research and address the India centric needs of the consumers. We plan to keep that as a competitive edge. In the past we have worked largely on the hardware front and in the future we intend to do it in the software application space.

Who are your target customers for your feature phones?

Our handsets cater to urban people, as our feature phones have a style element. We have been projecting it as a challenge to the brand, from commitment to differentiation. We basically believe that a phone is an extension to a person's personality. It means that a phone needs to carry the personality of a person. This is what we have been trying to acquire in our feature phones. We will also continue to maintain the same space in the future.

Handsets by Fly Mobiles are priced around Rs 10,000 or below but these days smartphones running Android operating system are available at a price between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000. In such a scenario why will the young generation opt for a feature phone and not a smartphone?

The youth may migrate to smartphones but there will always be a segment which will use feature phones because a smartphone's connectivity cost has to be balanced. It is not just the cost of the device, but it is the cost of the usage, which will also matter. At the end of the day, a phone has to deliver an experience to the consumer.

Fly Mobiles recently launched Maraphon smartphone in Europe. When can we see Fly smartphones in India?

We will be bringing these phones very soon in the Indian market. At present, we are in the process of developing the experience innovation for the consumers as the consumers in India are very different from the consumers in Europe. We have to be very consumer friendly in terms of applications.

We are waiting for the smartphone penetration to go up in the market. We are also developing the smartphone application space. We will be coming with our smartphones in India this year.

So many companies are launching tablets these days. What are your plans on that front?

We had launched a tablet - Fly Vision - long time back. Right now we are waiting for the market to grow. One of the major issues with the tablet market in India is the Wi-Fi connectivity in the country which is very limited. So, with the better emergence of Wi-Fi, we will embrace the tablet market far more seriously. It will take time for the market to explode as it is directly related to Wi-Fi connectivity existing in the country.

What is the market share of Fly Mobiles in feature phones?

In the market that we operate, we have around three to four per cent market share. We are targeting around six to seven per cent of the market share.

Do you have any manufacturing set up in India?

Currently, we do not have any manufacturing set up in India but later on we will probably look at it, once we have the confidence that the eco-system is ready to support it. Manufacturing involves many things and needs a complete eco-system, so we will embrace manufacturing at the right time.

What is the retail distribution strategy of Fly Mobiles in India?

Fly Mobiles India is operating through a network of distributors nationally. We do have distributors across different towns. The company has about 265 distributors and close to 400 service centres in the country. We are also working with the Future Group for retail distribution. As for the online retailers, we have not embraced them very aggressively so far, but occasionally, we do work with them.

What is the marketing strategy that you plan to follow?

Our marketing strategy revolves around keeping the consumer in the centre of the whole story and working around him/her to embrace their aspirations. We will fundamentally use multiple mediums for promoting our products. Fly Mobiles is already into television and some magazines as well and we plan to focus a lot on consumer connect events.

There are so many companies in the mobile phone segment, what are your strategies to survive the existing competition in the market?

We are trying to carve out a little space for ourselves but Samsung is a key competitor for us. Having said that, today everybody is a competitor in the market. Though we face tough competition in the market, at the end of the day, competition is not so much about the product in the market as much as it is in the mind of the consumer. So it is the brand that is being respected and consumers have a very clear perception about Fly Mobiles' promise to the consumer. We are also very successful with the word of mouth. Our brand ambassador is our consumer. They are the face of our company as they propagate the story.

Binni Rawat, EFYTIMES News Network

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