The Indian Smartphone market is becoming the hotbed of activity especially in the budget Smartphone segment. The introduction of low cost phones from various companies including Google’s own Android One to phones based on Firefox operating system marketed as the world's cheapest, Indian Smartphone market is growing exponentially.
While most international Smartphone manufacturers and their India counterparts are focusing on sales, an Indian Smartphone company is changing the face of the market by introducing regional Smartphone that can translate English text to Indian languages & vice versa with a swipe. Since a large number of the Indian population still uses regional language to converse and communicate, the Indian Mobile brand - Firstouch is all set to usher in a next revolution in the mobile phone industry. The Mumbai based company initiated in 2008 is the brainchild of three IIT graduates giving the Smartphone industry a ‘desi’ makeover. Since no current Smartphone allows users to translate a message from English to an Indian language and vice versa, Firstouch is one its kind phone with an indigenously designed operating system catering to a population that is not comfortable with English as a language for communication.
Firstouch and its Intrinsic Regional Features:
Firstouch with its Android customized technology is a Start-up which developed World’s First Regional Smartphone. This unique Smartphone could translate & transliterate regional languages text to English and in the other way. Brainchild of three friends, Rakesh Deshmukh, Akash Dongre and Sudhir Bangarambandi, Firstouch achieves this with a Swipe Language Technology, developed from an indigenously designed operating system
Firstouch has developed a predictive vernacular keyboard with 48-keys, which can type Indian characters with ease using even features like auto-complete. Firstouch phones also have a regional app store called ‘APP BAZAAR’, which is integrated with an operator billing gateway, thereby helping rural folks who doesn’t own a credit card.
The Entrepreneurial Journey:
Since India has a diverse population with many regional languages, the company was formed in order to provide regional language support to Smartphone market in India. “Our research on how we can provide mobile based technology solution to give them access to content in their language”, says Rakesh. Firstouch is a first step in India towards solving digital gap. It is very much in sync with the Government’s National 'e-Bhasha' Mission, which is intended to connect Rural India, digitally. Their ideology is to develop a digital vernacular content in various Indian languages with the same intention. Underlining the achievement of Firstouch, Rakesh reveals that there are few companies who understand the regional space but Firstouch is the only company who has taken a big step toward solving it and launched World’s First Regional Smartphone in Gujarat market.
The Road Ahead for 2014-15:
Since Firstouch has already become the world's first regional Smartphone which can translate & transliterate text from Gujarati to English and vice versa, the company is targeting growth with Hindi & Marathi translations. With a successful launch in April 2014 in Gujarat, the company is planning to launch its product across various regions. While August 2014 will witness introduction in Hindi & Marathi heartlands, the company would be available for Tamil, Telugu and Bengali translations by October this year. Firstouch aims to cover Kannada & Malayalam by end of the year with all other regional languages mid 2015.
Overview of Indian Smartphone Market:
As per the data of International Data Corporation, Smartphone sales in India are expected to reach “80.57 million units by the end of 2014”. March 2014 ended with 186 per cent hike in Smartphone sales, which is the highest in the Asia-Pacific. Indian players have an advantage over the global players in terms of having a better understanding of the consumer’s psychographics and demographics. “The next 500 million subscribers will come from rural market” says Rakesh and that is where Firstouch is emerging as a strong regional player.
Competition and Rivals:
The biggest barrier for adoption of Smartphone in India now is language reveals Rakesh. “A lot of people, who have the ability to buy a Smartphone, prefer not to, because they are intimidated by the use of English on these devices". Stressing on how Firstouch is different from other Smartphone that use Indian languages, Rakesh Reveals that FirstTouch is the only Smartphone brand which has a customizable OS to cater to the needs of rural and semi-urban users.
Revealing the marketing strategies adopted by Firstouch, Rakesh stresses on the importance of world of mouth publicity which brings a direct connect with the rural population. “Our product is unique and has got significant traction in rural market. We launched our first batch of Firstouch phones in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. There was need for Gujarati phone in regional community and got significant traction through Word of Mouth publicity. Our major sales were driven from people who used our phone and recommended it to their friends and family” says Rakesh with a confident smile.
Challenges and Roadblocks Faced:
“It was very difficult to explain and establish that it is the FIRST Regional phone of India, developed in India by Indians”, reveals Rakesh. To provide better experience and functionalities that has never been demonstrated by any other player till now was a challenge the company faced. People have not experienced software USP Smartphone in India. Customers very well understand about camera, screen size and memory etc. but software USP phones were never sold in India. With the success of Firstouch, the software USP phone market especially for regional players is likely to witness a massive change.
“We would like to maintain our leading position by launching more innovations”, says Rakesh on future plans of Firstouch. Their in-house technology team is working on new innovations which have not been talked by any of the other players. “These will be some of the outstanding solutions which will give more convenience and opportunity to the rural consumers”, signs off Rakesh with a smile.
Firstouch A10 Specifications:
- Screen Size: 4.0 inch display
- Display: 800 x 480 pixels resolution
- Processor: 1.2 GHz dual core processor
- RAM: 512 MB RAM
- ROM: 4 GB internal memory
- Primary Camera: 2MP primary camera
- Secondary Camera: 0.3 MP front facing camera
- Operating System: Google Android v4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- Battery: 1300 mAh battery