Before Diwali we will have a product made out of India, says Gionee India head Arvind Vohra

Gionee launched its flagship smartphone - the Elife E8 - at an event in New Delhi on 8 October. The smartphone sports a 24MP rear camera, comes with a MediaTek Helios X10 chipset with octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM. The phone will come with 64GB of internal storage and Gionee has also given you the option to add in a microSD card, if you think 64GB is not enough space.

We spent some time with the device and you can read our first impressions of the Gionee Elife E8. The Gionee Elife E8 is priced at Rs 34,999 and going by Gionee’s history, their flagship phone pricing has been premium since the launch of Elife E6. But this time around, Gionee has partnered with Snapdeal to sell the E8 online. At Rs 34,999, the Gionee Elife E8 will certainly have some good competition in the form of Samsung Galaxy A8, the just launched Motorola Moto X Style, and others phones such as the OnePlus Two, Huawei Honor 7 and so on.

Gionee also announced an online exclusive sales partnership with Snapdeal for the Elife E8 sale which will start from 12 October. Considering Gionee has been an offline player so far, we were curious as to whether this was the Chinese company’s plans to go online only.

On the Snapdeal partnership

Arvind Vohra, Gionee India head said that the company would remain omni-channel, selling via Snapdeal, its e-store as well as through its offline channel partners. For the Elife E8, Snapdeal would be the exclusive sales partner. But with online sales, you have a flash sale model for which pre-registration is required.

While Vohra said that registration would be required for the sale, but the company was still working on the sales model. “We are figuring out how we will go about the sales model. We will obviously be doing limited quantities, because it is a high end device. But having said that, we are not going to starve the consumers. See this is a high end phone, so I don’t think there is a fear of phone selling out in seconds,” he said.

He acknowledged that Gionee was trying something new with this model. “Honestly, I am trying my hand at something new, so let us see how it pans out. I don’t think online smartphone sales are only price driven anymore, there is something more to it. Snapdeal has shown me that ‘something more’. So let’s see how much of it is relevant,” he said.

While we have seen a lot of smartphone makers go the online-only route for some of its series of phones, Vohra believes that companies who do not want to invest will go online only first. “Guys who wanted to invest, went offline first and then online. We have invested in our offline channel partners since we launched in India couple of years ago. I don’t see online-offline as separate markets,” he conveyed.

On Marshmallow update and Amigo UX

When asked about the Marshmallow update on the Elife E8, Vohra said that there wasn’t much of a brouhaha over the update yet considering it is yet to come out on devices other than the Nexus phones and tablets. He was bullish on the Amigo user interface instead.

“We have our Amigo user interface and at the time of Lollipop launch, there were certain things that we did on Amigo UI in Jelly Bean, which were later incorporated in Lollipop. It all depends on how much customisation you have done on your Android phone and what user experience you are able to offer. We have around 12 people working on the Amigo user interface in India, and they are working to incorporate features relevant to Indian users,” he said.

On Gionee's Make in India plans

Vohra did mention the fact that Gionee has plans to start making phones in India. “Before Diwali we will have a product manufactured out of India,” he said, informing us that by March 2016 the company should be able to make all the different devices across Gionee’s portfolio, including the Elife E8. Gionee plans to set up two assembling units in India before Diwali and will initially start off with making feature smartphones from the F and M series.

The investment would initially concentrate on improving the assembly lines. Vohra said, “We will first start off with just assembling and later on depending on how the eco-system pans out we will put in more money. See the money is directly linked to returns, if we see high returns why would we not invest more?”

Vohra acknowledged that the first half of the year wasn’t good for the company, but since June, the sales of Gionee phones have stabilised. Apart from phones, Gionee also has plans to get into the wearables business soon. While not revealing anything, Vohra simply said that the company would announce wearables and accessories in February 2016 at the Mobile World Congress.

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