Two contrasting stories caught my attention in the last 24 hours: First, the sad story of Microsoft and its failure with mobile phones. The second one is the happier story of Lenovo selling 47,440 K3 Note phones in 5.2 seconds.
Both companies are IT elephants, but one of them (Lenovo) can dance.
The story of phones selling like hot cakes isn’t new. We hear about it time and again, courtesy Flipkart, Xiaomi, OnePlus and others.
An old model of the Apple iPhone (the 4S) is still in demand.
It seems anyone can produce a sleek, shiny, powerful phone these days. The OS is common (Android) and the hardware is commoditised.
So what did Microsoft miss?
And how do you sell a phone in seconds (not days or weeks)?
1. Go Android
Look around and you’ll see that phones are either proprietary (OS, Software, hardware made by one company) or Android powered (with the hardware made by different companies). The platforms that succeed are the ones that offer the most apps.
So it’s down to Apple iOS vs Android phones.
There are reports that even Blackberry is considering an Android phone. Perhaps it will have an Android shell on top of the core Blackberry OS.
2. What’s the value proposition?
It seems almost anybody can make a sleek, shiny feature packed phone these days. The hardware is almost commoditized. It’s what you build on top of the phone — the phone ecosystem. Apple mastered that by offering superb content and making a phone that is incredibly simple to use. Even two-year olds can use an iPhone!
3. Create a sense of urgency and craving
Closer to the launch date, leak the specs and some product photos online. Use social media to set off rumors. Get bloggers to write and tweet about it. And make sure the phone has “killer specs”.
4. Sell it online only — and through one e-commerce site
Make it exclusive. It should be available online only, from either Flipkart, SnapDeal or InfiBeam. And offer a pre-booking facility, and free shipping. Run teaser ads in the dailies.
I want one! I must have one!
5. Offer great service options
Offer a free screen replacement and at least 2 years warranty. Offer to pick it up from the owner’s home for service. And ensure that you have enough service centres and helpline numbers!
6. Bundle in a few freebies
Like free talktime. Partner with a content provider and offer free song and movie downloads for the first three months.
Remember, it’s not just a phone you are selling — its a multi-function personal infotainment device.
7. Looks to die for..
And make it look sexy. Seen the expensive cassette tape decks from the 1980s? We’re talking brushed aluminum uni-body cases; glass, leather back plates, and other exotic rare-earth materials. Alloys. Carbon, magnesium, sapphire glass.
8. It’s the camera that counts, silly
Everyone carries a camera and MP3 player in their pockets these days. It’s in their phone. So make sure the camera is top-notch (read: high on megapixels, great focus, intelligent features). Make sure the phone sounds good too, because we all like music. And for God’s sake, get rid of those cheap, tinny sounding earbuds. Get the sound experts to do your earphones, mate. Harmon/JBL, B&O etc. Apple just did that with Beats Audio.
9. Make it affordable
Keep the price below Rs 20,000.
Did I forget to mention something? Write to me and let me know.