Tell us your smartphone strategy for 2019
As you would already know, it’s a very tough market. We have changed a few things this year—earlier we were selling phones only in the volume segment or the segment between ₹ 5,000 and ₹ 12,000. We have changed our focus and we are now selling devices between ₹ 12,000 and ₹ 27,000. This essentially means our price bracket ranges between ₹ 5,000 to ₹ 27,000.
Panasonic, being a well-positioned brand in the Indian market, expects acceptance in this range and we want to target the right audience, which can really experience the innovations that we bring to our devices.
We are also building our own AI-backed platform, which we are calling Arbo Hub. Arbo Hub is the amalgamation of many applications and content on one single app, which can provide a very interesting user experience to the end customer. They can use multiple services on one platform.
Lastly, and very important for the Indian market, we are trying to give a provide after sales service to our consumers. We are a century-old brand, so the trust factor has to be much bigger when trying to create positioning and a sustainable long-term business model for mobility devices in the Indian market.
Most of your smartphones come with MediaTek processors. Why not Qualcomm?
Yes, you’re right. We recently launched the Eluga X1 and Eluga X1 Pro based on MediaTek processors. That doesn’t mean we only prefer MediaTek—we are currently selling Panasonic P95 with a Qualcomm processor.
We will also launch Panasonic P85 in the coming weeks that will ship with a Qualcomm processor. In the future, you will be able to see a mix of Qualcomm and MediaTek processors in our line-up.
The primary reason why we chose a MediaTek processor in our latest smartphone, the Eluga X1 Pro, is because we are currently promoting AI. At the time of its development, MediaTek was the only processor maker that allowed us to promote AI features.
We will soon reach a limit at which processors cannot be made any faster or be further miniaturised, going by Moore’s Law. Do you think this will result in smartphone makers focusing on other aspects of the phone while the major selling points of smartphones change to, let’s say, longevity instead of speed?
You’re right. Actually, most of the things we see in a smartphone have reached the saturation level in one way or the other. If you see the screens, we now have phones that are reaching nearly 100% screen-to-body ratio. So, what can be the new valuation or innovations in displays? Maybe foldable screens, right?
Similarly, smartphone processors have reached clock speeds of 2.3GHz and they come with octa-core configurations. RAM, which also plays a major role in speed, has also increased all the way up to 8GB.
Yes, we are reaching a saturation level, but as far as technology goes—we always have some innovation in one thing or the other. You can see phones coming with triple cameras and quadruple cameras. The battery is another such area.
Yes, there is a saturation point coming in, but in many areas development and innovation are taking place which will anyway enhance the longevity of phones.
In some sense, longevity has already been improving. We have several phones now that last way more than a couple of years.
Now, keeping innovations aside, what about the practicality of features? In the Indian market, there are several people not comfortable with the omission of the headphone jack, as it is easier to find a wired headset than a Bluetooth one. Yet, you skipped on it in the Eluga X1 and X1 Pro. Why go for that?
We removed the headphone jack on the Eluga X1 and X1 Pro for a cleaner and minimalistic design. But, yes— the practicality of the product is very, very important. This time we launched the product to understand the usage and perception of our customers. But our new devices that will replace the Eluga X1 and X1 Pro will come with a headphone jack. It makes more sense to provide those things in our devices.