LeEco has a long legacy of providing an ecosystem of services to its users: LeEco India COO Atul Jain

We caught up with Atul Jain, Chief Operating Office, LeEco India to find out more on their entry and experience with the Indian market.

It isn't easy being a device manufacturer in India. There's a launch happening practically everyday in India. Besides, margins per unit sold has been on the decline. And add to it the long list of competition. All fighting for a spot in the rankings of the most visible brand in India. In such a scenario, what makes one tick? We caught up with Atul Jain, Chief Operating Office, LeEco India to find out more. Here's how our discussion panned out.

As a Chinese brand that recently debuted in India, how has the experience been entering our market?

India is the second largest smartphone market in the world, and currently only four out of ten mobile phone users own a smartphone. This makes the Indian market very attractive for brands like LeEco with a distinct value proposition. However, India is also a complex market with lower barriers to enter, but a challenging market to scale looking from the offline distribution and go-to-market perspective.

What learning have you acquired from China?

Our China success story is what we are going to replicate in India. China gave us many learnings so this coupled with our insights and experience of the Indian market will help us make rapid strides here in India. As far as ecosystem is concerned, LeEco has a distinct advantage that no other player has, as LeEco has a long legacy of providing an ecosystem of services to its users in China. And central to this ecosystem is LeEco’s undisputed numero uno position in content and video streaming to is devices including superphones and super TVs.  The company plans to replicate this model in India and bring its customers, a comprehensive and high-quality video experience, encompassing movies, TV dramas, entertainment shows, concerts, and sports.

Also read: Our review of the LeEco Le 1s

When compared to India, how is the Chinese market different?

If you're comparing India with China, the similarities overshadow the differences. Indian consumers are perhaps more price and value conscious and despite the growing popularity of e-commerce, still a large percentage of our population purchase mobiles offline. The importance of touch and feel experience is far more here in India than China. LeEco however has a complete portfolio of high quality products and services at competitive prices as part of its ecosystem that appeal to various consumer target groups.

When are you getting content partnerships in India?

We have already entered into partnerships with two very prominent names – Eros Now & Yupp TV . This was announced at the time of our launch in India. Since then our technical teams have been working relentlessly to complete the integration process so our users have a superior experience. Simultaneously, LeEco has been building CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) in India – again with the same objective of enhancing user experience of content. Our integration process with Yupp TV & Eros should be completed soon. It is important to bear in mind that these two mark the first step in LeEco’s content journey in India. We are looking at more partnerships as we move along, so our content offering to consumers is indeed a rich and varied one.

What kind of model would you be implementing? Would it be a subscription model?

We are working on the modalities and we would be announcing it soon.

Also read: Our review of the LeEco Le Max

How are you going to tackle Around discovery platform available on Micromax devices?

LeEco’s content is centred on Entertainment – be it movies, dramas, reality shows , music or sports. And we will continue to focus on the Entertainment spectrum. Around however is focused on a completely different proposition of offering contextual information for categories like food, shopping and travel etc. As I mentioned to you earlier, that our legacy and rich experience of providing content services in China and now other parts of the world like the US & India is on a completely different scale altogether.

When could we expect LeEco televisions to be launched in India?

Very soon. We will be launching our Super TVs in the next 2 months.

Any time frame for launching additional product categories in India?

There are several launches from LeEco lined up this year. Newer models of our Superphones and TVs among other interesting developments.

Who would you consider competition in India?           

We do not benchmark ourselves with other only smartphone brands. As a global  internet, technology company with a unique ecosystem, we believe we are in a unique space . Having said that, our goal is to be among the top 3 players in each of the categories we operate in.

How do you plan to tackle the price wars out there?

We are known for disruptive pricing, wherever we go. LeEco operates on a pricing model that is lower than BOM cost as far as devices are concerned. That is because we believe that devices would be only one of the touch points for the consumer who would experience one- to- many of the products and services of our ecosystem.  So our phones or devices will continue to adopt a pricing model that will be very competitive.

The car and the partnership with Faraday Future and Aston Martin has been an exciting one. Any update there? 

There is an R&D partnership with Faraday Future and Aston Martin, but it is something not related to our Indian operation. I wouldn’t be the right person to comment on it.

Tell us more about the LeEco Ecosystem. Is cloud space also on the offering?

LeEco has its ecosystem that encompasses content, big screen , mobile , sports , automobile , internet financing and the Internet & cloud ecosystem. This is a unique model  where content can be viewed, synchronised and shared seamlessly across all the six screens – Mobile, Tablet, Computer, Smart TV, Cinema and Auto.

Coming to cloud part – We are going to set up in-house Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) in 10 cities across India by end of 2016. We will invest over $10 million to set up the cloud infrastructure. The CDNs will ensure faster seamless distribution of content. LeEco expects to reach out to nearly 10 million smart devices users base.

What are you doing to ensure a seamless viewing experience in a country challenged by internet infrastructure?

Lack of internet infrastructure is something that we need to circumvent and work with though I am very confident that with Digital India program and the government's initiative of building information super highways by rapidly rolling out nationwide optical fiber cable network across the length and breadth of India, would definitely resolve the internet infrastructure issue. I have also mentioned about our Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) in 10 cities that will help in seamless distribution of content.

Any plans for local development? What about the R&D Centre in Bangalore? Is Make in India happening anytime soon? 

We are fully committed and keen to take forward the Government of India's Make in India program. We recently met with the IT/Telecom Minister who was very encouraging and suggested several places we could look at for establishing our manufacturing centre. Even as we make our next move on this, our R&D plans are fast being translated into reality.

We have already taken several people on board for our R&D centre in Bangalore, including very senior hires. So, in a sense our Make in India has already begun.

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