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Xolo Black, a new online-only smartphone brand which will be made in India

Black will focus on a single phone launch for each quarter and a device will be available for at least nine months

Written by Nandagopal Rajan |
Updated: May 28, 2015 7:53:49 am
(Source: Nandagopal Rajan) Vishal Sehgal and Sunil Raina from Lava International. (Source: Nandagopal Rajan)

Xolo, the smartphone-only brand from Lava International, is all set to create an online-only sub-brand, that too made in India. Called Black, the sub brand will launch its first smartphone as early as mid-June.

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Vishal Sehgal, Co-founder, LAVA International says they have over the past few quarters realised how their core audience was the same as the core buyers on e-commerce sites. “About half our buyers are in the five metros and about a third of the sales are concentrated in the top 30 cities,” he says. Since almost 90 per cent of e-commerce sales are also concentrated in the top 30-odd cities, Xolo decided that it was time they too looked at an online only play.

However, the company had to do some soul searching to figure out what to do. “Ultimately we decided that our sweet spot would be in being an experience value brand that resonates with the tech savvy audience instead of specs-price ratio brands that works at face value and struggles in the long run,” explains Sehgal. Having launched its Android-based Hive operating system last year, Xolo is confident it will be able to offer a deep and highly customisable software experience for the users.

With the Black portfolio, Sehgal says, the company wants to focus on the camera, the design ID, audio quality and battery life. “We think these are the core features a buyer is looking for in a new smartphone. All Black phones will need to tick all of the above boxes. It will maximise one of those features and optimise the other three,” he says, adding that the first phone will try and give users the best dual rear-camera experience in that price range. Sehgal says the first phone will be priced under Rs 15,000, but the subsequent phones will push towards the lower and higher bands.

But Sunil Raina, Business Head, XOLO says they have always believed in honest pricing for smarpthones and would not have phones priced upwards of Rs 20,000. “I frankly don’t think any phone priced more than Rs 20,000 has an honest pricing,” chips in Sehgal.

Black will focus on a single phone launch for each quarter and a device will be available for at least nine months.

Sehgal says that has to be a minimum product cycle for any device. “Our job is to be able to forecast technology and future-proof our devices for this time frame,” he says. The phones will all be 4G LTE devices and will be available on a single e-commerce platform. Xolo has not yet disclosed the e-commerce partner.

In a departure from other online only brands, Black will spend $3 million on promotions. “We have to communicate the differentiated experience that we are offering.”

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