As new and more capable smartphones flood the Indian market, brands are now looking beyond hardware to woo the customers and, hence increasing attention on building an ecosystem.
The new focus is on optimizing the user’s experience that is based on good quality hardware as well as relevant native services. This focus has been instrumental in growth of the likes of Apple, which offers you a variety of services along with good hardware. For Android, fragmentation of the market has been rather a hurdle for brands than an advantage when it comes to uniform offerings. Micromax, India’s second largest smartphone brand, now looks to pioneer this with its investments in service providers with the latest one being in music streaming service Gaana.
As expected, Micromax will integrate Gaana on its smartphones. The move is likely to help Micromax increase its base in India. It’s worth pointing out here that Gaana has about 20 million active users. Simply put, you don’t need to separately download the Gaana app, and can expect it to be optimized for the Micromax devices, which are mostly budget ones.
Gaana isn’t Micromax’s first such tie up. It’s worth pointing out here that Micromax’s strategic partnerships cover most of the categories- healthcare (HealthifyMe), music (Gaana), travel (Ixigo), e/m-commerce (Scandid) and even cloud (MiMedia). Clearly, Micromax’s on mission to build a robust and comprehensive ecosystem. It looks to develop strategically relevant deployments of software that leverage its consumer footprint. Moreover, Micromax looks to assume the role of enabler for these and new service providers.
The vision could possibly be that you buy a smartphone and get most of the experiences built into the operating system. Eventually, if users want to listen to music, they won’t have to go into any app but Gaana could be integrated natively into the default music app. Similarly, HealthifyMe services could become the native fitness tracker application, much like Apple Health.
Micromax has also partnered with Mofirst, which is the maker of FirstTouch UI – a customized UI with support for local languages. YU, a Micromax-owned smartphone brand has tied up with Cyanogen, which provides a custom version of Android. The writing on the wall is clear, Micromax is gunning ahead to build its own custom OS with relevant services for India.
“We really have to struggle with the ecosystem of Google, chipset provider and ODM to get software updates for consumers. Most of the time, the chipset provider or the ODM just want to sell you new stuff than providing updates for older products. You need to own that part of the OS to make sure we don’t have to rely on that part of the ecosystem. A UI layer on top that we can control is what we are looking at doing,” Vineet Taneja, CEO, Micromax told BGR India in a recent interview.
Micromax, if it succeeds and its ecosystem is well received by users, will usher in a trend wherein brands, currently thriving on hardware, will be compelled to ramp up their platform and create ecosystems for end users. For users, this is simply great as they will have greater options for high specced and feature rich smartphones with native OS-level integration of services instead of having to install multiple apps.