As the top smartphone manufacturers across the world work on bringing artificial intelligence into smartphones, Indian smartphone manufacturer Karbonn is working on a unique use of the technology to aid commerce. They call it visual commerce. “We are now dabbling with artificial intelligence, a first for commerce. So with our new Fashion Eye smartphone, users will be able to click the photo of a shirt after which the AI engine will throw options of where you can buy the same or a similar product across online sellers,” says Shashin Devsare, Executive Director, KarbonnMobiles.
Karbonn, one of the largest Indian smartphone manufacturers, has a very different take on the market and believes volume is what India needs. “There are a lot of multinationals who think 250 million is a huge number, but it is their outlook. Our interest is in the next half a billion users, that is where Karbonn is focused.”
Devsare says it is unfair to believe that expectations from technology are going to be different for the rural market “But we accept that affordability is hugely different.” These customers might be willing to make some compromises, he says, but those are not large enough for them to qualify them as a completely different breed altogether. “We are making strides to address the differentiated customers.” Karbonn’s focus is in terms of bringing about the smart telephone experience in “a simple and beautiful manner”, he says.
Sounding a bit ominous, he says it is apparent that Indian smartphone market is showing symptoms of reaching a tipping point though it has still achieved only 30 per cent penetration. The 3.9 per cent growth Gartner recorded in the first quarter of 2016 can also be attributed to the sales of entry level smartphones.
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Devsare says the only way to overcome this hurdle is to deliver an optimised hardware experience while making the software relevant and rendered in terms of the right language and UI. And language is at the moment the biggest hurdle for adoption of smartphones.
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In fact, Karbonn’s experience with languages has been very positive. Insights from its K9 Smart entry-level device — its top seller in terms of volume — which offered native access to Indian languages showed that this prompted 93 per cent users to switch on data and at least half of them to start using the language in the operating system.
The company is now partnering with Indus OS to bring 21 languages to some new phones.