How Micromax Might Be Using YU to Rebrand its Public Image
With the introduction of the YU brand, Micromax has shown that it has the potential to rise in the brutal global mobile market. The first phone from the brand, ‘Yureka,’ is packed with amazing specs and comes for a price that can induce goosebumps. YU televentures is a brand formed by a collaboration between Micromax’s founders and famed custom ROM maker, CyanogenMod. Cyanogen’s active support might help YU create a mass fan following for itself.
The first offspring of the collaboration is the ‘Yureka’. It flaunts a 1.5 GHz, 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor, 2 GB DDR3, 16 GB internal storage and CAT-4 LTE. Yureka’s spec sheet looks better than any other release from Micromax’s stable.
Let’s look into why Micromax failed to be a brand that Indians could proudly call their own. Firstly, Micromax is not into the manufacturing business (if you didn’t already know), it rebrands handsets that it buys from China. This leads to a frequent disappearance or shortage of the devices from the market. Another adverse effect of this business strategy is the lack of spares for the devices. The company buys a limited quantity of devices by an estimation of sales numbers and if the Chinese manufacturer stops producing the model, the access to spares of that particular model also starts to dry up. This is the reason why sometimes phones with defects are stuck at their service center for weeks or even months.
Secondly, as the devices are bought from foreign manufacturers, there isn’t software support for them. The bootloader is locked, so advanced users find it tough to tweak around the device, unless someone takes the effort to unlock it. The lack of software updates is also a major bone of contention between the company and its customers. While products like the Motorola Moto G and E, which exist in Micromax’s home market, get almost instant updates; Micromax users are left fending for themselves.
It isn’t like Micromax is short on cash. If we would have to bet our money on one company that could have become a stalwart of phone manufacturers in India, we would bet on Micromax. But instead, they took the easier approach by simply rebranding devices made by foreign manufacturers. The company has the resources and potential to become a respectable brand around the world, but it chooses to be an amateurish brand with no real long term strategy. It could have been India’s Xiaomi, but its choice of mediocrity and the lack of real effort is holding it back.
With YU televentures, Micromax hopes to take on the issues that have blown up its public perception. The new brand though is not setting up a manufacturing unit as of yet, which should be one of its top priorities. But at least Micromax has taken the first baby steps to answer its critics.
YU’s biggest strength, of course, is Cyanogenmod, the custom ROM brings improved functionality and provides immense convenience to the consumers. Running on CM OS 11 which is based on Android 4.4.4, the YU Yureka offers an immense amount of customizability. It provides themes, ability to manipulate the functions of the buttons, improved hardware performance and everything in between. Not just that, it adds features like Baton from Nexbit (a Silicon Valley partner of Cyanogen) that would make the transfer of data and apps from one device to another feel like a natural limb movement.
At the press event, the term ecosystem was used multiple times. The presenter spoke about establishing a common forum where customers and developers can interact with each other to improve the functionalities of the devices. This is also something Micromax could have created by itself in the past four years. But better late than never. With their new forum page, YU will be a collaborative effort between consumers and the company. Customers can discuss the issues that they have with their devices and the developers will try to address them. There will also be regular OTA updates every month which will keep these devices in sync with the latest developments.
For Micromax, the success of YU televentures can work as a great PR boost. For the business aspect of YU, the company is taking the approach of reducing distribution, advertising and retail end costs by releasing the device online. According to earlier reports the unit price of the imported device stood at Rs. 8301 and it is being sold at Rs.8999 so the margin for the company is minuscule. This is an effort to create a buzz for the device.
The service aspect of the Yu also garnered massive applause at the presentation. The company plans to begin a door-to-door service initiative by which professionals would come to the house of the buyer to service the device. This sounds like a far fetched plan for a device worth Rs. 9,000. To see if this initiative actually succeeds, we have to wait for it to arrive. But if it does succeed, we would be the first to applaud as it would raise the standard of customer support for mobiles in India.
The company also plans to get into the accessories segment (as it should). At present, it is only offering leather cases and a tempered glass screen protector but they plan to expand it further. They also plan to delve into producing devices like wearables and power banks. This would be an important step towards improving and expanding the ecosystem that the founders of YU wish to achieve.
YU’s grand plans sound amazing on paper, but we will still hold on to our skepticism. Micromax has always promised us grand things, but when it came to delivering, its past promises were found to be mostly empty. We do think that YU has the potential to revolutionize the mobile sphere in India, but bits like providing door-to-door services, still sound audacious for the company. We will keep a vigilant eye on the YU televentures in action to see if it stands true to the promises it has made. In the meanwhile, as a parent brand, Micromax should work towards fixing its follies to become a world-class brand that Indians could feel proud enough to flaunt. We are excited Micromax, don’t let us down.