Backed by former Apple CEO John Sculley, Obi Worldphone (formerly called Obi Mobiles) has launched two smartphones priced between $129-249. This is the company’s second attempt to gain a foothold in the Indian smartphone market after a failed attempt mid last year.
Although Obi Worldphone had launched its phones early last year in India, it stopped selling devices in the country and pulled back all its stock from the Indian market. Neeraj Chauhan, CEO, Obi Worldphone said that it wanted to try out distributing commodity phones from China. “It didn’t work in India, although it had so successfully worked in the UAE,” he said adding that Obi has a 5.7% market share in the UAE.
“It didn’t work in India because in India we were one of the many people trying to sell that same thing with no apparent differentiation. Then we realised and took a step back and stopped selling those phones in India,” Chauhan said adding that it was then they engaged with Ammunition and saw things take shape.
The business model, John Sculley explained would be low-margin and driven by volume and backed by its design-oriented approach. “Our design elegance will become our core marketing message and secondly that the extra investment we make into this thing will help us get the numbers.” he said.
Ammunition also developed Obi Lifespeed, a custom user interface for Android that unifies the software and hardware experience. Obi phones have brought together the technology from Qualcomm, Dolby, Sony, Corning, Google, MediaTek, Japan Display and Samsung to deliver a powerful performance.
Obi Worldphone SF1 (San Francisco) is the company’s flagship 4G/LTE smartphone featuring a raised 5-inch display made of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and is priced at $199 for the 2GB RAM/16 GB internal memory version and $249 for the 3 GB RAM/32 GB internal memory version. Its SJ1.5 (San Jose) is a 3G smartphone powered by the MediaTek MT6580 Quad-Core processor and is priced at $129.
The Obi Worldphone line will be available from October in retail stores in some countries and online in others. Initial Obi Worldphone markets will ones with rapidly growing youth populations including Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and India.
Sculley said that Obi Worldphone plans to make SF1 and SJ1.5 available in 50-70 countries by 2017.