The last few quarters witnessed a couple of Chinese ODM partners directly entering the competitive yet high growth India smartphone market. PHICOMM is another ODM partner that plans to enter the India market by early 2014. At the recently concluded PT / EXPO COMM 2013 Beijing (September 24-28), CMR analyst Tarun Pathak caught up with Steven Qu, President, Asia-Pacific, Global Sales Department, PHICOMM. Excerpts of the interview are given below for the benefit of our readers:
Tarun Pathak, CMR: Would you please give us a brief background about PHICOMM brand?
Steven Qu, PHICOMM: PHICOMM is a new brand under Shanghai Feixun Communication Co. Ltd., which is a high-tech enterprise dedicated to R&D and manufacture of networking and communication equipment. Feixun, established in 2008 has an employee strength of 4,000. It covers five business units – Mobile (Phones and Tablets), ICT (Information and Communications Technology), Cloud (Datacenter, Enterprise storage), SOHO (Smart Homes), ENT (Enterprise Networking). Hence, the primary businesses of PHICOMM cover areas of IP Networking (Wireless, ADSL, PLC, PON, Switch, Media Converter etc.) and Communication (Mobile Phone and Tablet) products for personal, SOHO and enterprise users. We are a brand that has products from terminal till the cloud.
Tarun Pathak, CMR: How does PHICOMM see the India smartphones market?
Steven Qu, PHICOMM: I believe India and China are similar in many respects. India is comparatively stronger on the software front than China, while China is stronger in hardware and supply chain management when compared to India. In both countries the smartphones market is growing rapidly. For us India will be our major market in Asia next year. Since mobile is a major part of our business, India will be a key market for us going forward.
Tarun Pathak, CMR: Is India in the picture for all five of your BUs or just Mobile?
Steven Qu, PHICOMM: No, in the short term we will have a planned launch of PHICOMM Mobile, SOHO and ENT devices in India. ICT and Cloud are comparatively new and have been established this year. So, we have no immediate plans for PHICOMM ICT and Cloud products to be introduced to the India market, but a long term direction is definitely on the horizon. We may also find a local partner in India for PHICOMM Cloud and ICT solutions.
Tarun Pathak, CMR: What are your strategies or expansion plans for Mobile, SOHO and ENT in India?
Steven Qu, PHICOMM: As far as Mobile is concerned we are already ODM partners to local vendors like Micromax, Spice and Videocon. But we definitely plan to enter via the other business model too – entering directly into the India market. However, there are certain challenges which we are evaluating; one of these is logistics and supply chain management. We may end up partnering with a local agency and provide after sales services through them. An alternate model is to have our own stores and own the after sales service, as we did in the Indonesia and Singapore markets; but that will call for a huge upfront investment. Hence, this year we plan to just sense the India market in terms of Price, Volume and Channels.
As far as SOHO and ENT products are concerned we might sell them through e-commerce stores in India with the help of a local partner. We are trying to identify a suitable local partner for the same. Mobile is a major part of our business but attention is on SOHO and Enterprise too.
Tarun Pathak, CMR: Can you share a brief on PHICOMM products?
Steven Qu, PHICOMM: Our SOHO products like Wi-Fi Routers and ADSL routers have various models and are built on the latest technology. Our ENT access products like EPON and GPON are also getting worldwide attention. In mobile we have just launched a couple of smartphones today, which are a fine blend of class and innovation.
So I am sure that with a world class innovative portfolio of products from terminal till the cloud, we will grow in size, volume and geography.
Tarun Pathak, CMR: When can we see PHICOMM 4G-enabled handsets and Tablets for the India market?
Steven Qu, PHICOMM: Yes, we do have plans and will have 4G products ready by 1Q 2014 but we will only launch these once we have a fair idea that the India 4G market is big and volumes driven. Since the 4G devices required in India will have a similar technological requirement (TD-LTE) that we have in China, so it won’t be much of technological issue for us.
Our first priority will be gaining a significant share of the India smartphones market. We will prepare competitive strategies for winning market share and we will be very aggressive, be it pricing or product launches.