Former Apple CEO Sculley to head efforts for Obi smartphone brand in India

Former Apple CEO John Sculley has launched a new low-cost smartphone brand called Obi in India.

Former Apple CEO John Sculley has launched a new low-cost smartphone brand called Obi in India.


At prices ranging between Rs 6000 and Rs 8000, Sculley hopes that Obi's phones will lure premium phone buyers away from players like Samsung and Apple, and take the fight to local giants like Micromax and Karbonn.


Samsung dominates India’s smartphone market by sales currently, followed by Sony and Apple.


Sculley will invest around $20 million through Singapore based Inflexionpoint, with the idea to grow the business to $1 billion in just two years, CNBV-TV18 reported.


Sculley, who was the CEO at Apple between 1983 and 1993 and was reportedly also the man who fired Steve Jobs, will fund the venture.


He now hopes to sell at least a million units and turn profitable in the first five months of operation in India.


Sculley is looking at margins of around 20 percent thanks to a very frugal expense model.


In an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18, Sculley said the smartphones will be bundled with value-added services. However, he did not elaborate on the kind of services being offered.


"I am very bullish on India and will continue to invest here," he said.


Obi will be led by former head of Micromax’s smartphone division, Ajay Sharma.


The Economic Times had earlier reported that Vishal Sopory will be named as the CEO of Iris Computers , the company responsible for the distribution of the Obi phones in India.


In 1983, Sculley was brought in as CEO by Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to steer the fledgling tech company through the launch of the Macintosh but Sculley and Jobs suffered a fallout over product strategy.


Jobs later claimed he was fired from Apple while Sculley said Jobs was demoted and he resigned soon after. But in a historic turn of events, Jobs returned in the mid-1990s to resurrect Apple from near bankruptcy to make it the telecom behemoth it is today.


One of the world’s top smartphone makers, Apple operates in India but has failed to make significant inroads into the local smartphone market where Korean rival Samsung is a top player with a market share of 37 percent.


Smartphones are immensely popular in India with a 172.2 percent year-on-year growth. But it's still tiny compared with China, which, at only 50 percent more subscribers has a 10 times bigger mobile phone industry.



This story first appeared on FirstBiz


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