Infinix CEO Anish Kapoor on the company’s plans for smartphones, TVs, laptops, and more

A chat with the India head of brand Infinix

Brand Infinix has been on a launch spree in recent months, unveiling one new smartphone after another, and adding newer devices to its smart TV and laptop portfolios as well. The company grabbed headlines recently when it announced plans to introduce 180W charging on an upcoming flagship. We caught hold of Infinix India CEO Anish Kapoor and quizzed him about the company’s plans, the various product segments it’s in and how it plans to move forward in the months to come. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

91mobiles
So let’s start off with the 180W charge technology. Do tell us what we can expect. And how do you think it will affect the brand image from a consumer point of view?

Anish Kapoor (AK)
Last year, we launched a concept phone, I’m not sure if you saw that. And that essentially, was the starting point of what our journey would be and how we want to play out this market. That concept phone had all the fancy things, including fast charging… I think 160W is what we did at that time… charging the phone in 10 minutes flat. We did not commercialise it, because we were really building up our focus, and we have worked mostly on the budget segment. From last year, we started building on the Zero series, which essentially includes phones in the Rs 10,000 plus to Rs 20-25,000 price points. One of the things which used to come back to us was that the processor is not up to the mark, and so on and so forth. I think with the Note series, we have changed the story. We are trying to lead in terms of bringing a great product experience at very aggressive price points. I think that’s the background to what 180W is all about. The objective is very clear here — to create a very differentiated flagship from our side as Infinix. And we want it to be at the centre of what we can do with the technology. I think that’s the route which we want to take. And yes, we expect people to look at us as an alternative when they are looking to make that choice at certain price points, which is not the budget segment. We want people to really consider us as an effective choice.

91mobiles
You mentioned the budget segment. But now with 180W charging, there is a mention of a flagship too. So it’s clear the brand seems to be moving up the ladder. Any details at all that you can give us on the flagship that you mentioned? It is a big move from a brand perspective, right? Because there’s a certain way a prospective buyer would think about the brand. Are you trying to change that perception?


AK
Yeah, I think it’s a fair point. I’m sure there are other brands which have taken a very similar journey. Everybody started in the budget category and moved up the ladder, except maybe the big two brands that have always been premium and are trying to go down. It’s how the market dynamics have changed. I think right now, I won’t say anything more than this on the flagship, because it’s still in the works, and we’re trying to see what value we can bring with that product. And how do we create excitement for the user? We have a community, called X Club. There’s a lot of exciting stuff being shared, but we also get a lot of feedback from them. It’s a ladder for people as well, because once they have bought a phone costing Rs 8,000-9,000, probably the next time their budget goes to 15, or 20,000. But as part of the journey, we want them to come back to us. So we are taking that journey. And we are not limiting ourselves to smartphones. We’re trying to create an ecosystem of devices which we can play around with. That’s why you see those laptops coming out. And it’s not only the budget category. Our products have all the features which you really look for in a laptop in a premium segment. And similarly, the TV journey will be taken. We are on the verge of launching a 55-inch variant, and QLED as well. We were structured in the budget 30 to 40-inch for TVs, and similarly for smartphones. But I think we are moving up the ladder.

91mobiles
I think you answered a question I was about to ask about your TV plans. We’ll come to that in a bit but I’m still trying to address the smartphone space. You’re talking about a smartphone that potentially could go into flagship territory. Now, service is something that is very important for all segments. But it gets even more important with increasing price points and with the increasing money that people have to spend to get a phone. So how is Infinix geared in that aspect, in terms of ensuring that the customers get the best for what they’re paying?

AK
Spot on! I think I also personally look at service first as a starting point. You are probably aware of Carlcare. So, with Carlcare managing the service part for us, we have close to 1,180 odd service centres right now and we cover close to 1,000 towns. So, in India, as a phone service network, we will be in the top two or three in terms of absolute service coverage. All our devices are pre-loaded [with] the Carlcare app. So, what you do is you just log on to Carlcare. It has all the details which are listed in terms of your nearest service centre. So, you don’t really have to look it up on Google. Everything’s on the tip of your fingers. You just log on and check your nearest service centre. And I think the way we are expanding in terms of our business; accordingly, the service network is also getting expanded. So, we were close to 900 odd last year, and today we are at 1,180.

91mobiles
And it seems this month is packed for you in terms of launches. So on the phone side and going forward the rest of this year, any sense that you can give us in terms of what we can expect?

AK
I think we are looking at close to eight to 10 launches this year. So, you can expect new Infinix phones over the next six to 10 months. Across categories, that’s the number which we are looking at. A portfolio of 5G phones is in the pipeline, focusing on different price points. Recently we launched the Zero series and the Note 12 series in July. There are a few others which are going to get launched over a period of time. I think we’ll see a good portfolio of phones up to Rs 20,000 or 22,000 when we have four or five products on 5G, and similarly, we’ll continue to launch 4G phones as well. So, you’re looking at those eight or nine products across six months.


91mobiles
Can you talk about some other products that Infinix is focusing on this year?

AK
Apart from smartphones, we are looking at laptops. So, the Infinix Neo laptop was launched this month. [It’s] focused on giving students a great alternative. We have been able to bring a metal body design, fast charging, full HD screen, greater camera, and so on. So, what we are trying to do is continue that journey and you will see very aggressively-priced Infinix laptops going forward.

Infinix InBook X1 Slim

91mobiles
So the pandemic definitely changed the laptop scenario. I think two questions that come to mind right now as far as laptops are concerned are how the response has been for Infinix in this category and whether there are any plans to move into the gaming category for laptops.

AK
Interesting one, I think I’ll take the first one. Consumer response to our laptops has been phenomenal. I think it exceeded what we initially thought we could do. We saw great responses even in the Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 segment. I would say the response is great as we are mostly out of stock. And we form close to 10 percent of the category business on Flipkart now. So that’s how fast we have grown in the last four or five months in the laptop space. So, I think people have been loving what we are offering. We’ll try to bring great value propositions and options to the consumer. Going to the second part, yes, I know gaming is going to be a big league. But I think it’s a very niche play, centred on hardcore configuration. ASUS and other big players dominate this category rather than the traditional players. So, I think we’ve still not really gone into [it]. But yes, we are evaluating that space as well, but for now, we’ll continue to focus on what’s working for us.

91mobiles
Do you have any plans to move into bigger screen sizes, and a more premium side for smart TVs? I think a part of that has already been answered. You mentioned launching 50-inch and 55-inch TVs, and you mentioned QLED as well.

AK
I think that’s something which we have been working on for quite some time, actually. Till the time we are very satisfied with what we have to offer to the consumer, we will keep working on it. We were planning to launch it earlier this year. But I think there were some issues and I think finally it is getting ready. And hopefully, before the festive season, we will have something. In fact, both 43- and 32-inch models are out of stock right now and we’re struggling for supplies because the demand has been more than we anticipated. But yes, I think from now on and what we’re planning to launch is probably more path-breaking than what we have thought to do. We just launched a 32-inch smart TV with aggressive pricing and soon we will offer 50-inch and 55-inch TVs as well. The 55-inch model will be a QLED TV.

91mobiles
So, I just have one last question. The tablet segment is making a comeback and I think you guys have some accessories as well. There are TWS and wearables, which are popular categories as well. What are the plans in terms of new products in these specific segments?

AK
I think the initial euphoria for tablets, which happened at the start of the pandemic, ended before the pandemic ended. So, there was a spike in interest for tablets, but that’s going down. That’s something because, from a content standpoint for tablets, a lot of people still want to buy the keyboard. So, normally tablets are 10 inches, not eight inches. In our phone category, we are known for big screen and big battery phones. We are close to offering 7-inch displays on our phones. And we have laptops that offer bigger screens at aggressive prices. So, I think it’s fairly calculated thinking that we wanted to play aggressively on the laptops rather than tablets. I think wearables are something where we have not been able to put the right product out. We tried with one or two, but I think that is still under work. That’s not gone away. We may surprise you the next time. There are a lot of brands that have come up from nowhere. And they’re selling at crazy prices. But it’s all about getting that supply chain right. But for us, it is to give that seamless experience, if we have to get a smartwatch or something like that. But I think for us, the main thing is how we keep improving, keep learning and keep changing the market.

91mobiles
Thank you so much for your time. It was an interesting discussion for sure. All the very best for what’s next.