Nubia, which is a part of ZTE, recently launched the Nubia M2 smartphone last week in India, and just like all the previous handsets from the company, the new offering was also sold exclusively online, via Amazon India. Gadgets 360 spoke to Nubia's India Head Eric Hu and Marketing Director Dheeraj Kukreja and the two told us how the brand is finally making its move into the offline retail space in the country, and why it's taken so long to do so.
"We are in discussion with Amazon right now, because [it] also has an offline team, which works for the offline business," said Kukreja. "So we are in close discussion with the Amazon team to go offline." The team hasn't set an exact date for the process yet Kukreja explained, because that there are several formalities that need to be taken care of before the company can start selling its smartphones offline.
"We are currently exploring them [the formalities]," he said. "If we are able to meet these requirements in time, we would like to go offline within this year itself."
The Nubia brand has been in India for a couple of years now, but it's stuck to online for a lot longer than many of its competitors. Others such as Xiaomi and Motorola, which helped popularise online sales of phones, eventually adopted offline channels as well, for at least parts of their catalogues. Even OnePlus is available at the company's store in Bengaluru, and at pop-up events during launches. Nubia however took its time before deciding to move offline.
Hu and Kukreja said that Nubia wanted to use the online model to introduce the products to the country, and it was waiting for the right opportunity to go offline. "The kind of technology experience we offer, we believe it is for online audience," Kukreja said. Today though, he added, the brand has achieved a certain level of awareness, and so it's the right time to also go offline.
On the product side, Kukreja and Hu said that while the entire industry is focussing on the hardware upgrades for the smartphones, Nubia's focus is on the user experience in terms of photography, and design. In India specifically, Nubia says that its target audience includes users who are interested in smartphone photography. The company focuses on its own catalogue, Kukreja added, without considering the competition when designing new products. Instead, Hu and Kukreja told Gadgets 360 that the focus is to be practical and user friendly, rather than just innovating and adding new things.
The two executives also mentioned that speeding up the pipeline to bring products to India closer to the international launch is the priority for the company. Pricing is a secondary issue, and Kukreja acknowledged that Nubia's lineup is costlier, but added that users will not regret buying its devices. The software and hardware combination, he argues, delivers enough value to justify the price.
In the competitive smartphone market, Nubia's smartphones come in the same price segment as offerings by Vivo and Oppo. As these two players have a strong offline presence and have almost flooded the Indian offline retail stores, it might take a great effort on Nubia's part to make its smartphones appeal to the users who still prefer to buy phones offline.