Micromax is all set to launch its Yu brand of smartphones. These aren’t just more run-of-the-mill budget Android devices but rather budget-devices that run CyanogenMod OS 11, which is a modified version of Google’s popular OS.
Micromax had launched its first smartphone under this brand, the Yureka device last month for a price of Rs 8999 and registrations for this opened on Amazon.in on 19 December. The device will now go on sale tomorrow, (13 January) from 2.00 pm onwards.
Firstpost spoke to Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma, who’s also heading the Yu brand now, on the expectations from the device and what this new brand means for the company. Here is an edited excerpt of the interaction
What are the expectations from the Yu brand that Micromax has? How has the audience response been to these smartphones?
You know whenever you start anything new, you have high expectations from it and it’s the same with Yu. Yu is a global brand for us and India is the very first market where we are launching it.
As far as the response is concerned, it has been completely overwhelming and massive. We never expected this sort of response initially and that’s why we had to close down registrations one day before. We were quite stunned and surprised because we thought we’re a new brand and we’ll slowly start crawling.
As far as numbers are concerned, we got over 3 lakh registrations. Since we are a start-up, we are just ramping up production and we only have 10,000 initial units that will go on sale. If we hadn’t stopped registration, then it would have gone up more, and we didn’t want too many people fighting over these 10,000 units.
What do you see as the target audience for the Yu brand? Do you see it as extending beyond the geeks, given that CyanogenMod tends to appeal to them?
I think it’s been going on for some time now, people are tired of using these (plain vanilla Android phones). People want to customise their device, want their device to evolve and people want their devices to get updated month on month.
Even if you see, the Android L release is not out on most of the phones, whereas this release of CyanogenMod has various features that are now getting introduced into Android L. For instance, the feature like Heads up (which alerts users about incoming notifications without disturbing another activity they might be working on) was always there on CyanogenMod.
So I think people are understanding the need for a change, the need to customise their devices. You know, initially we thought we’ll be targetting most of the techies but I think the way the response has been, it is clear that this is device will be more and more mass-based.
How crucial do you think this exclusive online-strategy will be to the success of the Yu brand? Or are we likely to see it get changed in sometime for a wider appeal ?
All those who people who want to customise their device, who think their devices should evolve month-on-month, these are all digital natives. They are all constantly online and if we have to reach to them, then I think online is a fantastic medium. We will see more and more people come online to buy the products in the coming years and yes I think we will like to stick online with Yu.
Will ‘Yu’ rely on flash sales or will we see a more continuous stock of the smartphone soon?
We need to have some time to ramp up production. Initially we will take a month or so, in terms of ramping up, the lines in the factories. We need to have some time, before we starting running on it. It’s a good problem to have, but we will try and solve it as soon as possible.
With Yureka smartphone, we’re seeing a slew of services being offered as well. For instance people can root their phone without worrying or for servicing of the phone, you’ve promised to send the help back to people’s home instead of being forced to take it to a service centre. How crucial do you think these will be to Yureka’s success and how easy will it be to get something like this functioning?
If you are buying a product online, then I really don’t see why you should go to a service centre offline and look for help. For example, if I buy a denim online and I don’t like the size and I want to return it, they come home and take it from me. Why shouldn’t it be the same for a smartphone? For service, we are willing to go the extra mile for the consumer. Of course, nothing like this is easy and we are already working on the infrastructure.
What should we expect from the Yu brand? Will it remain a budget brand or will there be more premium or mid-budget smartphones in this series?
I can’t give the number we’ll be sticking to, but Yu will always be a brand of everyone. It’s not going to be just for premium devices. You can expect various devices from Yu and not just mobile phones.
In India, recently Chinese smartphone brands have made some serious in-roads. What’s the challenge for Micromax and how will you compete with these?
Competition is always there and we’ve seen that every year there are new players. We’ve clearly demonstrated in the last five years that whenever we do something new, we know how to be on top of our game. If you see the kind of response that Yu has got and compare it to the response that these new players have got, we are miles ahead.
In the coming months, it won’t be surprising to see Yu brand leading in a certain category and for now we have the numbers which show the kind of interest the phone has generated.