Security firm 360 and smartphone maker Coolpad has come together to introduce another smartphone brand in the Indian market called QiKU (pronounced as ‘Chiku’ in Hindi). Recognising themselves as yet another flagship killer brand, QiKU’s first smartphone- Q Terra, again tries to woo buyers with top notch specs at an affordable price.
During today’s launch event, surprisingly, QiKU announced that their first smartphone will be available for two prices- Rs 19,999 with invite and Rs 21,999 without invite. The infamous invite-only model introduced by OnePlus can be considered as a mechanism to control demand. But why is QiKU opting for an invite model when they are confident about their supply and time to market while selling the same device for Rs 2,000 extra?
Another surprise hit the audience when QiKU announced that the Q Terra smartphone will be exclusive to Gadgets 360, an NDTV venture, which is totally new to the entire e-commerce market in India. There are more experienced players like Flipkart and Snapdeal, already popular for their exclusive online partnerships.
QiKU India CEO Varun Sharma in an exclusive interaction with IndianExpress.com answers these questions and provides more insights on the company.
Another Chinese smartphone brand in the already crowded smartphone market. What is your expectation?
People think that the market is crowded. But it is crowded in a market with over 100 million units and will the number will double itself each year. It is a pure white space and there is enough room for everyone to grow. As far as QiKU is concerned, we are looking to find few user segments and become dominant.
So, like OnePlus and others, you are also looking at building your own community?
Yeah. We are looking at building our own community of users and will focus on being dominant among that community.
Primarily you are a software company. You must have approached several smartphone makers. Why did you choose to partner with Coolpad to make QiKU phones?
There are patents and R&Ds which you need to access to make futuristic devices. So, we have partnered with Coolpad and they hold 24 per cent stake in this company. With this we get access to lot of patents that Coolpad has and along with our software strength we will be able to come up with better offerings.
Coolpad recently partnered with Videocon to announce domestic manufacturing. Do you have any similar ‘Make in India’ plans?
It is too early. We have just taken the first step. But we do have some clear plans for the future.
QiKU Q Terra comes for two prices- Rs 19,999 for invites and Rs 21,999 for without invites. So, don’t you think you are forcing this invite system onto consumers?
No really. The price of Q Terra is Rs 21,999. Period. Our objective right now is to create our community. For becoming a part of that community, we will be opening a lot of contest and drills to enable users to prove that they are worthy of our community. And as a reward, they will get an invite which will give them special privileges. To start with they will get a discount of Rs 2,000 on the new Q Terra smartphone.
What is your plan on the upcoming QiKU smartphone lineup?
We would be looking forward to cater to different price points and will try to deliver the best possible for that particular price. We surely want to target several user segments in the next three years.
Will you compete in the sub Rs-10000 budget market?
We will be there where our core users would want us to be. No plans as such. But if consumers wants us to be in the budget range, we will definitely listen to them.
You are a new brand and you have partnered exclusively with another new e-commerce brand, Gadgets 360. You could have opted for more experienced Flipkart or Snapdeal for your first smartphone. Your thoughts?
With Gadget 360, we found a partner who has access to tech enthusiasts in India. They will help us to create our community.
But e-commerce is different ball game altogether and Gadgets 360 has a long way to go.
I am an ex-Flipkart employee and I hope to understand the challenges of the e-commerce industry well. I think gone are times in e-commerce industry when logistics and customer service used to be an entry barrier. The ecosystem has evolved. Everybody is using third-party logistics. Five years back, these third-party logistic players were not much prominent. But now, the technology and logistic platforms are common to all players. So, that is what Gadgets 360 is also doing and we are confident in this partnership.
What are your views on the new QiKU smartphone? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.