World of Play is Micromax co-founder Vikas Jain’s latest venture, betting big on the youth of India and the power of connected devices to create a link with them. The new company will focus on audio and wearables under the PlayFit and PlayGo branding, even as it works on long-term projects around home electronics and home security.
As its USP, Jain claims Play is maybe the only company that has a connected devices app made and hosted entirely in India. “In the wearable portfolio we have across different products, the backend is common. So depending on the hardware attributes available, the app automatically customises to display only that information,” he explains about his range, underlining that the entire UI UX and app structure has been designed by his team in Pune.
Soon, he wants the entire manufacturing of Play devices also to move to India. And there is good reasoning behind it. “Investments required for manufacturing, the IoT category of products, especially if they’re not very intricate and expensive, the equipment and fixtures, jigs, whatever are required, are much smaller than larger setups, like a television or a mobile,” Jain tells indianexpress.com.
Jain is confident this is where India might see a lot of manufacturing pickup, “because the duty structure is really steep on this vertical”. He adds: “It’s only a matter of time, practically all the brands should and will be starting to manufacture their product lines here.” Wearables now attract a 20% customs duty and 18% GST and any drop in rates will have a significant impact on pricing and make products more affordable for Indians, he says.
There is also the unique Play at Home service where a customer will be able to report and problem and get it picked up by the company which will repair and return it. “That’s one of the small things that we can do as a company to ensure customer delight and probably be regretful of the customer inconvenience that we could have caused for the device. Obviously, even in spite of our best efforts, we really can’t say none of the devices will have a problem,” Jain says.
Play is banking on the growth of affordable personal audio devices because most of the smartphones are now shipping without earphones. Also, with Apple taking the lead in dropping the 3.5mm jack a couple of years back, the wireless segment has seen tremendous potential, Jain explains.
Jain says Play would be very offline focused. “Offline distribution is something that no brand can ignore, in the longer run. So we would like to take all the hard steps now. But as we are a relatively new brand for distribution, expansion would take some time,” he says, adding that they would have an offline presence also. Play is now available in a hundred cities and around 10,000 stores.
Jain is targeting the youth with Play, but he knows that while they are adventurous with new brands the segment is also finicky and demanding. “Youth is a category who is now focused upon saying that we don’t want the cheapest, but the best and at a good price,” reasons Jain, whose Micromax too focused on the youth segment. Play’s focus will be on offering a product that is great, but with pricing that is appropriate.
“We will not be the price challenger… We believe our strength is the fact that we understand the consumer well. So we would like to play to our strengths than running behind and opportunity.”
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