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Interview with William Lu – Gionee President & Business Plans

Last week at the Gionee Marathon M5 Plus Smartphone Launch in China, we had a Q&A Session with the brand’s president William Lu along with their India Head Arvind Vora. Following are a few answers to the questions along with the brands strategies for the coming future.

Q. What are the plans for the Brand
A. We have recently announced the Gionee F103 Smartphone through our Make in India Initiative that came out to be our Most Selling Smartphone in the current scenario from the complete portfolio. We are looking forward to focusing on M & S Series, that includes the Elife S8 & the Marathon M5 Lite that we are going to launch shortly. We as a brand are looking to offer the users a better experience using our products, rather than getting into the price wars on the market.

Q. Offline or Online?
A. We at Gionee have been always focussed more on the Offline market when compared & it has proven to be the right step we have taken up. When you look at most of the brands they are primarily focussed more on the price, be it a brand offering the device at Rs 4k or someone who is selling a device at 25k pricing. We at Gionee have believed that an experience matters more because most users are Smart, and if they do not like your device, they would never buy anything from the complete lineup. Regarding the Offline Vs Online statement, we are going to launch our next phone soon at the same pricing for the both the markets, to make sure people do not prioritise Online because of the competitive pricing & Offline dealers do not lose any business.

Online Presence does not sustain unless you have Offline presence, as seen with OnePlus, Xiaomi, etc. that have in the later stage collaborated with the offline chains and started selling their Smartphones.

FACT: 70% Of the markets are still controlled by the offline retailers who work with their promoters, unlike online markets that are influenced through the Social Media, Professional Reviews & advertisements.

Q. What’s in the Pipeline?
A. We are going to Launch the Gionee M5 Lite in India soon followed by a Global Announcement at the Mobile World Congress where we are going to launch the Gionee Elife S8. We already have our Make in India facility up and running, and we are planning to launch a few 4G devices all in the price range below Rs 5000 giving a good experience to first time Smartphone buyers with high-speed connectivity. Along with this, the brand is also looking forward to focusing more on the Metal Design in their future line & also on the Force Touch technology that we had seen implemented on the Apple iPhone.

Q. What is the Logic behind 6″ Phone i.e. E8 (only 2000 units Imported)
A. We have seen a lot of interest from the consumers in large display devices; that can already be seen with the iPhone 6 Plus sales. Once a person moves to a larger screen he cannot move back, and this is the primary reason we thought to introduce a 6 inches device. We were not keen to sell this device because it’s not our focus at the moment and it was more of a showcase of we as a brand can do.

Q. Any plans for Wearables / IOT Devices
A. We do not plan to launch any wearable or any IOT devices soon, though we already have a Smart Watch that was developed this year. Primarily because of the fewer sales of the other Smartwatches in the industry, we plan to skip that and focus only on our domain i.e. the Smart Phones & continue increasing our market share by introducing better devices.

Q. What’s the Top Selling device from Gionee
A. We have been surprised with the sales of the F103 Smartphone that was launched at a sub 10k pricing and it is one of the best regarding the sales. The second best selling is the Gionee S Plus that was an offline only device launched with the USB Type-C port and a different design. We are hoping that the upcoming devices with the Make in India initiatives would help us keep the price low, offer better devices and help us grow in the Indian Markets.

Q. Are the Local brands like Intex a threat to the brand?
A. We are in no competition with these brands especially like the one you have mentioned i.e. Intex. These local brands sell so-called Smartphones at a price range of Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 that offer a terrible experience to someone who is buying a Smart device for the first time. These consumers would become more intelligent by time using the technology and end up never buying these cheap or budgeted devices that offer a lagging experience.

Q. Why are Assembled Products claimed as Make in India?
A. Make in India is an initiative that is being worked together with the Government of India and we have already launched our First Smartphone under the same. Yes, its actual assembly that is done but that’s just the start because we cannot expect manufacturing of components right from the start. The process is certainly going in reverse order where it’s the final assembly done first, followed by manufacturing of external components and with time we can hope the internal parts were also built when there is a fair market & suppliers here in India. There is also a good percentage of money saved when the devices are assembled locally.

Q. What are the Sales numbers for the current year
A. We had doubled our sales in 2014 when compared to 2013, but this year we were not able to exactly double the sales, but we did make a few benchmarks like make in India, expanding online presence and are also in the process of manufacturing all the future line up in India. We are quite hopeful on high sales in 2016 based on the upcoming products that we are going to launch globally. We are also going to focus more on making our Amigo UI more Indianised by partnering with the local players. There is no point in reinventing the wheel again because there are already some fantastic players with whom we could partner & offer better experience & content to our users in India. You can see some progress in this area before the Diwali of 2016.

Q. When would you launch the M5 Plus in India
A. We are going to start the sales of the Marathon M5 Plus in India after the Chinese New Year that’s in the month of February. You can also hear from us for the M5 Lite launch that’s going to happen soon.

Note: Gionee had sponsored the trip to China & invited us to their launch of the M5 Plus Smartphone & these Q&A was done after the launch event.

By Amit Bhawani on Tuesday 29th of Dec 2015


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