Okaya enters branded mobile battery segment

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By Srabani Sen

In direct competition with market leader Nokia, Okaya Power has made a foray into the mobile battery market with an ambitious target of Rs 1.5 billion turnover by the end of this financial year. Focusing on the replacement battery market in India, Okaya has launched mobile lithium batteries under the brand name ‘Joos’ with an investment of about Rs 1.2 billion to set up a plant in Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh, with a total installed capacity of up to 4 million units a month. The plant has been operational since March 2010.

“After extensive research and market surveys, we found a huge demand and supply gap in the market for reliable mobile phone batteries. To bridge this gap, we have ventured into the branded mobile phone battery business,” says Okaya Power co-founder and director Rajesh Gupta while speaking to Electronics Bazaar. “Nokia is the only company that makes branded batteries for mobile phones in India, and we are competing with it. ‘Joos’ will be known for reliability and safety,” adds Gupta.

Okaya will launch 36 models of mobile batteries in the next three months and another 16 later this year, which will be compatible with all leading mobile handsets, and are slated to be priced between Rs 295 and Rs 995. “To push sales across India, we are expanding our distribution network to 100,000 dealers within a year,” says Gupta. Presently, Okaya has 1000 distributors, which cater to 50,000 dealers. The company also plans to diversify into laptop, camcorders and digital camera batteries in this financial year. “We are already working on laptop batteries, which we plan to launch soon,” says Gupta.  In the first phase, ‘Joos’ will be available in north Indian markets and then it will be rolled out into west and east India, before establishing a pan-India presence.  Over the years, there have been some significant safety issues with mobile batteries. Last year, Sony recalled a huge number of batteries; Nokia also issued a recall on 46 million BL-5C cellphone batteries due to a potential fire hazard during charging.

“Keeping these issues in mind, we have designed our batteries to be the most reliable and safe. These batteries are designed to provide inbuilt protection circuit modules (PCM), preventing overcharging, over current and short circuits, besides having a long standby time,” informs Gupta. “About 95 per cent of the replacement batteries available in the grey market have no standard quality. This increases the hazards. We, however, vouch for the safety factor of ‘Joos’.

Mobile phone manufacturers are upbeat about the development. Says S N Rai, co-founder and director, Lava International Ltd, “These developments are creating positive ecosystems and encouraging local manufacturing, gradually.”  It would be really interesting to see how Okaya competes with Nokia to capture the Indian market.

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