Coolpad to make a comeback with new smartphones in India after parting ways with debt-ridden LeEco

The struggling Chinese conglomerate LeEco has sold more than half of its stake in the Coolpad Group and has already said goodbye to it.

After nearly a six-month-long hiatus, China-based handset manufacturer Coolpad is set to make a comeback with a new line-up of smartphones and accessories for the Indian market, a top company executive has said.

Coolpad. Reuters.

Coolpad. Reuters.

In January, the Shenzhen-based handset maker bid adieu to its financially-troubled Chinese partner LeEco. It later announced a fresh investment of $300 million from Power Sun Ventures, a family trust. Chinese property mogul Chen Hua, Founder and Head of the Kingkey Group, is leading the new investment through Power Sun Ventures.

"The fresh funding that we have received is primarily for the Indian and the US markets. We are not working much in China because that market has few opportunities; but we will play very aggressively in India and in the US market," Syed Tajuddin, CEO-Coolpad India, told IANS in an interview.

"We are making a fresh start as new investors have come on board. Currently, we are occupied in settling market debts which have come from the LeEco side. Our strategy for 2018 is to remain committed to the Indian market," Tajuddin added.

The struggling Chinese conglomerate LeEco has sold more than half of its stake in the Coolpad Group and has already said goodbye to it. Now on its own, Coolpad will use 35 percent of the funding to launch a new line-up in India, with a renewed focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In line with its plans to focus more on AI, Coolpad announced at the recently-concluded Mobile World Congress 2018 (MWC) in Barcelona that it will integrate Amazon's smart assistant Alexa in some of its devices.

The integration would allow Coolpad smartphone owners give voice commands using the Coolpad Alexa app for multiple tasks. "We are working to immerse more AI and tech into smartphones to make the experience more intelligent, friendly and beneficial for users. Incorporating Alexa in Coolpad smartphones is one such step," Tajuddin said.

The top executive believes that the second half of 2018 would be the perfect time to bounce back. The last product launched by Coolpad in the country was "Cool Play 6" in August 2017 and, in 2016, the handset maker had launched eight smartphone models in India.

"We'll have some launches in the first half, but we are primarily targeting the second half, especially when the festival season starts, as that's the right time to offer a great product to customers," Tajuddin told IANS.

The company is also geared up to unveil a new line-up of accessories by early 2019. Coolpad India is also mulling to partner with telecom service providers to fend off attacks from other competitors in the cut-throat domestic smartphone market.

"This time, we will try to work out a business model with a telecom service provider and I think we have ample opportunities as per the current market. Such a collaboration can help the telecom operator as well as the device maker," Tajuddin noted.

"Association with an operator is important as this is the future," he said, adding that "the top two or three smartphone brands are struggling to survive as there are fewer opportunities to explore now".

Asked about the go-to market strategy for the rest of the year, Tajuddin said: "We have... one for the online market and another for the offline market. The latter will have more focus on design aesthetics and look-and-feel of products."

Before the LeEco impact, the company had been producing 34 million smartphones globally every year, raking up $3 billion in revenue each year. Coolpad recently announced a partnership with global chip-maker Qualcomm to foray into the smart wearable gadgets segment.

Coolpad's smart wearable products portfolio will be based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon "Wear" platforms.

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