Last year was a great one for Lenovo's India mobile phone division. The Chinese phone-maker took the second spot for smartphone sales in the calendar year 2016, edging out a sinking Micromax. Both the Moto and Lenovo brands were well received by Indian phone buyers and reviewers.
Going into 2017, the company wants to improve upon last year's performance. HuffPost India spoke with Sudhin Mathur, Managing Director of Motorola Mobility. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation —
What has Lenovo's journey to the number two spot been like?
Lenovo has been in India for a couple of years. I have been working in the mobile industry for almost two decades. We understood that we have to be a consumer-centric brand and keep reinventing ourselves. Over the years, a lot of brands have sunk and risen. You have to understand what your users want. The dual brand strategy has worked for us very well after we acquired Moto in 2014.
Tell us more about the dual branding strategy.
For both Moto and Lenovo, the target users are different. Lenovo is for more tech savvy and geeky people, the ones who love their specifications and extra features on the phone. Moto, on the other hand, is for the audience that is more into the whole mobile experience. They might not worry about the technicality but for them reliability and familiarity with the phone are everything. Moto has been the trendsetter in many segments.
How did you plan for a successful 2016?
Well, after the experience of a couple of years, we knew how to launch our products and what features to have on our phones. Also, we figured out the distribution channels. From the start, Moto has been an online only brand and Lenovo is also largely sold through e-commerce portals. In fact, one out of four smartphones sold online is a Lenovo or Moto. Customers just don't buy into a brand. They buy into the product as well.
Motorola and Lenovo both have launched many phones in the budget segment. What about higher range phones?
If you see, we launched Moto Z and Moto Z Play last year with a modular design. That was one of the most innovative phones of the year. A lot of people are asking about more mods and buying them as well. Where else you will get a Hasselblad camera attached to a phone or a portable 70-inch projector?
How are modular phones doing in India? What is the future plan for them?
A lot of people are excited about buying mods. There are customers who have bought all the mods. These add-ons are backward compatible so, for three years, the upcoming phones will support them. This year, we will release 3-4 mods every quarter. We also have an open program for designers to present their ideas.
How is Lenovo faring against competition from brands such as OnePlus?
We play the experience game here. Moto Z was a revolutionary phone. Even the phones launched by Lenovo in the K-Note series are based on experience. We include things such as Dolby Atmos sound in the phones for more enjoyable usage. We provide the cleanest Android in Moto, so our software strategy is on the point as well.
Has the government's 'Make In India' policy helped you in anyway?
Yes, it has been very helpful. We have produced over 10 million devices in India. Seventy percent of our production takes place from the factory in Chennai. We want to expand more in the future.
How does Lenovo see itself reaching the number one spot in India sales?
We are not in a numbers race. We want to amplify user participation in our products. Our strong point has been phones in the ₹10,000 to ₹20,000 range and we will concentrate on that.