When Dilip Modi, Managing Director of Spice Mobility, recently told reporters that the company wants to be the “Apple of Asia”, the message was well and truly on the board. Spice Global, Spice Mobility’s holding company, owns a huge range of interests in sectors as varied as retail, telecom and cinema infrastructure. The conglomerate is known for its catchy marketing and innovative ventures. In line with this image, the mobile division has been an active part of the Indian phone market, known for its low-cost offerings and distinctive features.
With Spice Mobility’s shift of focus to mobile Internet being announced in May 2012, the company’s vision is well-outlined. They wish to continue producing handsets at remarkably affordable costs, while also bringing to the table the wealth of the mobile web. The story of Spice is a story of success; here is a look at the company’s many milestones in the Indian phone industry.
New and unique ideas and pocket-friendly solutions
Ever since its inception, Spice has had a single-point agenda: being an Indian innovator. Their list of firsts in India is a lengthy one, and this includes the telecom and mobile sector, some of its achievements in which are detailed below
- First to launch cellular services: The Modi Telstra MobileNet, a brainchild of Dilip Modi, was India’s first cellular service, launched in 1995 in Calcutta. A major milestone was created when the West Bengal Chief Minister made India’s first phone call from a cell, setting the precedent for the sector’s massive growth in the following years. Spice Mobility later sold this section of their operations to Idea Cellular.
- First to offer 3D mobile phone: In October 2010, Spice beat bigwigs such as Samsung and Motorola to launch India’s first 3D-capable phone. The View D offered the user an option to switch between 3D and 2D modes. It also had a unique feature called Remote Wipe, in which the phone’s data could be deleted remotely, thus enhancing phone security in the event of theft or loss. Initially available for Rs. 4299, the View D was a definite catch.
- First to introduce dual-mode QWERTY: With the QT-95, Spice finally brought a dual mode QWERTY phone to Indian shores. Users had a choice to toggle between 3G and 2G, depending on their data requirements. The QT-68 was launched simultaneously, and it was India’s first phone dedicated to social networking. The QT-95 was priced a little above Rs. 5000, and its younger sister a little below, making them both immensely pocket-friendly.
- First to launch dual-mode Android: Continuing its foray into dual-mode technologies, Spice launched the Mi-350in late 2011. The Mi-350 is India’s first Android phone with dual-mode capabilities. The price of this model has been oscillating in the sub-10,000 INR range, which makes it one of the most lucrative Android devices floating on Indian store-shelves.
From the phone prices mentioned above, it becomes unquestionable that Spice Mobility is dedicated to the Indian middle-class, making sure that each of their products is well within an average Indian phone user’s reach. In the form of their own attractive Java-based operating systems such as that in the FLO TV, and now Android (upgradable in the most recent models to 4.0), the software offered by Spice is top-class, and the hardware is, in many cases, a revelation. In this regard, the S-1200 comes to mind. Much before Nokia’s N8 came out; Spice introduced the S-1200, a phone boasting a 12-megapixel camera. With the current best price of around 10,000 INR, the low-price factor comes to the forefront again.
Spice Mobility is a pioneer in quality low-budget cellular telephony, a look at Spice Mobile price list reveals just the sheer amount of choices buyers. But product specifications and prices are not the only aspects that make a company successful. There are other imperatives for business leadership, and this is how Mobility’s parent Spice Global has taken care of them.
The formula behind Spice’s success
Every business enterprise has two fundamental requirements for success: a substantial network in the business environment, and consumer visibility. Spice has ensured both in the following manner:
- Massive presence and collaborations:Spice Global possesses an enviable business network, fuelled by a growing web of its own companies, including Spice Mobility, Spice i2i and Spice Cinemas. To make things easier, Spice has acquired multiple companies, such as Thailand NewTel Corp., and with it the hugely popular Blueberry brand. Further, its collaborations and joint ventures are well-documented, including those with legendary firms like Xerox, as well as modern leaders like MediaTek. It is this last collaboration that has enabled Spice to procure high-technology chips at low prices.
- Advertisements: Long have advertisements been the cornerstones of effective marketing, and Spice is well-versed in the art. The paramount instance of this is the ad for the Spice FLO TV, which was made in the form of a music video in order to attract India’s young population. Spice Global’s other interests, like Spice Cinemas, also add visibility to the entire brand, sparking a symbiotic association between sister companies. Signing on popular actress Sonam Kapoor as Spice Mobility’s brand ambassador was a masterstroke in marketing the company to Indian consumers.
Spice, and in particular Spice Mobility (recently rechristened S-Mobility) have grasped the nerve of the Indian consumer market, and seem set for rapid growth in the coming years. Mobility’s market share, currently in single digits, is expected to grow to over 20 percent in the next decade. If such a statistic does indeed come to pass, Spice will have well and truly established itself on the path to become the Apple of India, competing with the world’s most prosperous phone brand, albeit at startlingly lower prices. And as is now widely accepted, once they conquer India, Asia will soon follow.