In a month chock-a-block with phone launches to mark the festive season, one brand is taking things sensibly — Poco (an independent brand born out of Xiaomi), which is known for offering specs that punch above price points. This time, the brand moves in the sub-10K segment with Poco C3. Shopping budgets this year will be governed by the pandemic, so most would spend only on gadgets that are important for the entire family. We spoke to Anuj Sharma, country director of Poco India to find out more.
When did you begin thinking about the sub-10K segment?
We only started around February. Most plans that we zero in on usually start a year in advance. That’s the time you need… to understand the basic platform, how much procurement needs to be done, people need to start manufacturing and stuff like that. But to come from the F series, which is essentially Rs 20,000 and above… it was a big move to come down below 20K and do X and M series. Those were definitely planned.
In February things started changing. China had already gone into a lockdown and so did Singapore. And around five or six per cent impact on macro economics level is massive. Right now, obviously, we are seeing more than that. This is when we started to plan a device that people need. A smartphone in such an environment… a lockdown world… is essential. Not everyone in India has a laptop nor do many have tablets. A phone is something that most people can get.
It is perhaps the most difficult segment because you need to worry about quality and price.
To go below 10K needed a lot of planning. By May or June when the first test units were coming through, the talk around online learning began picking up. Asking a family to shell out more than Rs 10,000 for a device that would be used four-five hours a day was going to be hard. That’s when the phone started making sense.
A lot of people will look at it during the festive period. I’m hoping people would still get their Diwali bonuses — I don’t know how big or small — and when that happens they are going to spend not necessarily on a Rs 15,000 or 20,000 device. We are giving them a solid option under 10K. We are giving a device that works from a communication perspective, from a learning perspective and content consumption perspective. It continues to be an unfortunate situation but at least I think we’ve got one more step in the right direction.
Did you first think of the pricing and then went about the design?
In this case, the whole idea was communication; people will be using this for staying connected with their families and so on. This means, it should be a reliable device. Next, it should have good battery life and shouldn’t run out easily if I forget to charge the phone. We did well by choosing a large display. During the festive season not everyone’s going to buy a Poco device and a lot of sub-10K consumers may not even know that a brand called Poco exists. But for those who are in the Poco universe, which is quite an amount, they know our strengths. It becomes easier for me because I’m not going to please everyone. By picking that particular segment, I’m able to further choose what I can do and what I should not do. For example, if I put in a big battery, do I need faster charging? Probably not because people in this (Poco) universe are going to charge overnight.
Be it any smartphone brand, there are trolls online, especially on Twitter. How do you deal with them?
On a personal level, I keep looking at all the comments that come up. Anytime there’s a suggestion, good or bad, you kind of factor that in. I start filtering out messages based on a few parameters. One, if I see that the guy is constantly been trolling my brand and at the same saying good things about another brand. That’s a giveaway. Second, there are people with, say, two followers but the user has put out a 1,000 tweets in the last one month. You filter that out. Before answering, I normally go through the person’s profile, which takes like 30 seconds. We do have social media listening tools. So at a larger level, it does help filter stuff. I think the biggest one is inputs coming in from product reviews.
At a glance
Device: Poco C3
- Processor: MediaTek Helio G35 octa-core
- Display: 6.53-inch high definition+
- Camera: Rear — 13MP+2MP (macro)+ 2MP (depth sensor); selfie — 5MP
- Battery: 5,000mAh
- Storage: 3GB + 32GB and 4GB + 64GB (microSD up to 512GB)
- OS: MIUI 12 for Poco based on Android 10
- Price: Introductory pricing of
- Rs 7,499 and Rs 8,999 (starting October 16on Flipkart)