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Android One is a signal to the world: Mohit Bhushan, MediaTek

A fabless-semiconductor company, MediaTek plays a significant role in bringing down the smartphone prices in the Indian subcontinent. It was the usage of economical MediaTek chip, which enabled the domestic device manufacturers to offer smartphones at a reasonable price range.

Now with the launch of Android One, MediaTek has further pushed the envelope where democratization of devices is concerned. Launched by Google, Android One offers a range of features at a competitive rate of $100. Though MediaTek has a dominant position in the value-for-money segment, it is clearly vying for marketshare in the premium segment as well.

Voice&Data spoke to Mohit Bhushan, VP/GM-US Marketing & BD, MediaTek, to find out more about its plans in the India market:

Voice&Data: Congratulations on collaborating with Google for Android One. What kind of uptake are you expecting with the launch of this initiative?

Mohit Bhushan: After creating a whole series of phones in the past we are now focusing on very mainstream, very capable and very well thought-out phones. We have been working very closely with Google over the last few months. It [Android One] has got a very capable display, touch design and responds very well to the fingerstrokes and 5-megapixel camera is also there. It is priced very reasonably at just $100.

This is going to go very well with image standpoint and also from business standpoint. We hope to sell 1.5 to 2 mn phones before the end of the year and then keep going from there. The numbers are staggering. The just 100 mn smartphones [in India] are using android devices and projection for India is that the country will have 500 mn smartphones by 2017. We would like to get a very good share of the next 400 mn users.

Voice&Data: You mentioned `image standpoint’. MediaTek is known to offer value-for-money propositions. Is that a limiting factor in your growth?

Mohit Bhushan: It can be limiting… yes, you are right, because image is something that sticks with you for a while. Through hard work and through exemplary product releases you can shake it off. This is what we are going to see with Android One and more similar product initiatives in future.

We are certainly at that point in our company’s progression where it is not about low cost anymore. Our chips are very capable and we are pushing very strongly in all the essential technologies.

Besides, we believe Android One is a signal to the world that we are capable of partnering very closely with a world leader like Google. This should help our image perception. And then there’s more to follow.

Voice&Data: What are your expansion plans for the Indian market?

Mohit Bhushan: We recently opened Bangalore R&D center and soon it is going to grow to 100 engineers by the end of this year. It is focused on hardware design and the plan is to make it a 500-engineer office.

Our Noida office is also going to grow to tap the local talent. We have research and development centers at both Noida and Bangalore. We plan to invest around $200 mn over the next two-three years in these offices.

Voice&Data: By when do you think LTE devices will be available at attractive price points? And by when do you think LTE devices will start contributing significantly to your bottomline?

Mohit Bhushan: Our [LTE] chips would be ready by the end of this month. We are going through a lot of carrier testing right now. We will be doing in India as well…it is on the roadmap. LTE is still very small, like a drop in the ocean, as far as developing markets is concerned. We think it will be December 2015, when LTE shipments will become meaningful.

For the next 12 months or so the market is going to focus on 3G. LTE will start picking up towards the end of next year. We would be doing total shipments of around 350 mn smartphones by the end of this year and only 30 mn is LTE… so it is very small right now.

Voice&Data: Qualcomm is still number one in both global and Indian market. What is your strategy to garner marketshare?

Mohit Bhushan: Qualcomm has made a very good position for itself in the West and they have done exceedingly well. However, Mediatek has its strength, especially so in the emerging regions. We understand the psyche of the developing markets the best. People look for price, value for price and we understand what kind of behavior they have on their phone. That’s why we are successful here.

In times to come we are, of course, angling to get into premium and shake-off the low-cost image and be recognized world leader in technology. Android one is a step in this direction.


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