“We aim to clock a turnover of Rs 6 billion this financial year”

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Ankur Gupta, chief technology officer, Ziox Mobiles

Headquartered in New Delhi, Ziox Mobiles has expanded rapidly since its inception, showing profitability and sales growth from its first year of operations. Ankur Gupta, chief technology officer of Ziox Mobiles, discusses a range of issues with Baishakhi Dutta of Electronics Bazaar, including how the brand has established its operations in India, its association with Reliance Jio, and its plans for the future.

EB: What is Ziox’s share of the Indian market?
Currently, with our key focus on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, Ziox has rapidly gained market share and intends to reach 5 per cent of the market by FY 18-19.There is a huge demand for feature phones in both rural as well as urban areas. People are still inclined towards such models. In fact, there are smartphone users who keep feature phones as a backup because smartphone batteries are so unreliable.

To strengthen our presence in North India, we also aim to open our own experience zones in UP, starting with Lucknow. These exclusive stores will focus on the touch-and-feel aspects of the purchasing process and on servicing. Ziox will also continue to expand its offline presence with retailers and distributors through its direct to retail (DTR) model, which will help it to maintain price parity.

EB: Is Ziox a Made in India brand? If yes, where are your production plants?
Apart from our Delhi unit, the company is identifying suitable land for our projects, for which we are in talks with the Uttar Pradesh government agencies. The new plant will basically assemble a semi-knocked down (SKD) mobile phone kit imported from China. At present, Ziox runs a unit in Delhi, and has its own R&D facilities in China and in the national capital.

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EB: Do you have any partnerships with other solutions providers for components like processors, RAM, etc?
We have not collaborated yet with any solutions provider for components but we are planning to do so with Spreadtrum, which operates from China, and also with Mediatek, which operates from Taiwan. We will be collaborating with both by the end of this FY.

EB: Could you give us a glimpse of Ziox’s production setup—is it automated? What is the production capacity?
The manufacturing unit of Ziox Mobiles is located in Peeragarhi in New Delhi. This unit is spread over an area of 9290.30sqm, and has around 12 lines with a capacity to produce 10,000 to 20,000 mobile phones every day. Currently, we are focusing on increasing our production capacity to meet the growing demand from Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

EB: How has the Jio phone affected your sales? Has it had any impact on your collaboration with Jio for connectivity plans?
Needless to say, Jio has disrupted the mobile market in India and the entire industry has witnessed a major shake-up. The Indian feature phone players have taken the biggest hit from the Jio 4G devices. Jio has supplied its new phone effectively free of cost to users, who only have to deposit ₹ 1500 with the company for three years. This move has forced other mobile players to come up with similar offers, to minimise the damage done by Reliance’s moves. In fact, most of these handset makers are already working on their own low cost 4G devices, besides adding more features to basic phones.

At Ziox, we have entered into a successful association with Reliance Jio. Through the new partnership, Ziox will provide a variety of benefits to Jio customers interested in purchasing the latest smartphones offered by the company. We, too, have been affected and our feature phone sales have gradually slowed down. But understanding the existing market dynamics, we are coming up with our own new, upgraded and hi-tech devices to minimise these losses.

EB: What is your focus —feature phones or smartphones? And what is the USP you offer?
The designs and looks of mobile phones are changing gradually; so we try to experiment with colours. Earlier, feature phones did not have auto-call recording, etc, which they have now. The battery life is better. People are moving towards slim phones, so feature phones are becoming slimmer. Our line-up of feature phones and smartphones comes under the budget category, and has over 40 models at different price ranges. Balancing looks and functionality, our portfolio is designed for the Indian consumer.

To stay in the lead, you need to be updated not only with technology but also be aware of the style trends. For starters, our dual rear selfie cameras – the Duopix R1/F1 are designed as per current market trends. In addition, we are currently focusing on embedding a borderless display in the upcoming Ziox smartphone. We have also launched a tubelight model that has powerful LED lights. Earlier, we had launched one feature phone with Wi-Fi and another with 32GB internal memory. In the future, we will focus on 4G smartphones, which will have value added features with the latest technology, at the most affordable prices. All this keeps the space very exciting for us.

EB: How are you strategising to position yourself in an already saturated cell phone market?
With a total investment of ₹ 1 billion, our go-to-market strategy is chiefly to focus on retail visibility and connect with the consumer through BTL (below the line) activities and social media.

In order to be a pan-India brand, 360-degree marketing campaigns are an essential part of our brand strategy.

EB: What challenges do you face in India as a mobile device business? Is there any help you can expect from the government to address these?

The telecom industry seems to me the most progressive and dynamic. Every day there are new launches and entries into this segment and that, in turn, brings its own challenges. The biggest challenge is pricing, particularly with high tech specs. Other challenges include maintaining the brand position in sync with ongoing trends and the consumption patterns of the target audience.

EB: What are your expansion plans?
Ziox is aiming to grab 5 per cent of the Indian mobile market by the end of this FY. We aim to target consumers across Tier 3, Tier 4, and Tier 5 markets. We plan to launch over 20 feature phones and 10 smartphones, which will be power packed with the latest specs and features, all at the most affordable prices.

Apart from the mobile market, we also have plans to enter the consumer durables segment. Our first product in this segment will be TV sets, followed by washing machines and air conditioners. As a brand, we will leverage our progress so far to diversify further. We aim to clock a turnover of ₹ 6 billion this financial year.

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