Breaking down Poco’s ‘independent’ foray in 2020
Poco is getting a new lease of life as a separate entity.
The brand debuted with Poco F1 in August 2018. Since then, it has been the only Poco phone in the market. The phone received mostly positive reviews. Commercially, it did well as it had 3.6% share in 2018 in ₹15,000-30,000 price segment which later dropped to 1.1% in 2019, according to a Counterpoint data.
Jai Mani, who was spearheading the Poco division, left the company in July 2019. Since 2018, Poco F1 has received multiple updates and has been part of all major e-commerce and mi.com sales. Prices of the phone have also been slashed over the period of time.
With a separate entity push, however, Poco is now looking to revive itself with a new product roadmap. Apart from new devices, the plan also includes leveraging Xiaomi's ecosystem to some extent but without losing the message of being a separate brand altogether.
Poco in India is now being led by C Manmohan, who has previously held different roles in the company. Yash Garg, Product PR at Xiaomi, is also going to join the new division.
"Today, we are at a stage where we think that we are ready for our next journey," Manmohan said while noting it was the customers' feedback and appreciation behind the new push for Poco.
Manmohan also shed light on how the new entity will function and use Xiaomi's ecosystem.
"We will have our own sales, marketing, and product teams. There will be certain services which we will leverage from Xiaomi's ecosystem. For example, supply chain or after sales support. I think when a customer gets to know that there are thousand service centers in the country, it brings a lot of confidence," he noted.
On how much independent the company will be, Manmohan revealed, "Essentially, Poco will be paying for whatever services Xiaomi renders. How much it will render will be dependent on what's the scale of the company, right. For example, it does not make sense that if you are selling let's say 100 phones versus thousand phones, to have the same amount of resources allocated. So, all the all this will be dependent on how exactly Poco will grow."
Manmohan admits since Poco F1 launched, the smartphone space has evolved a lot with more number of phones across brands being able to target power users.
"Yes, the landscape has changed, but nevertheless Poco F1 has stayed relevant. We're going to continue that. Maybe, if I may ask you a question which product has remained relevant after one year of its launch? So that's exactly what we want to achieve -- a customer buying now or customer buying a few months down the line or a few years down the line, the product has to stay relevant," he said.
He also clarified that Poco team will not know what Mi and Redmi teams are working on, and vice versa.
"The information on a new product we will share with you in due course of time. But the primary thing will be to focus on Poco F1, and continue to work on Poco F1, not leaving that ever left alone but at the same time launch new products," he said on plans to launch new products.
While Poco may have Xiaomi's ecosystem leverage, it still has multiple challenges. "This spin off is related to making space for Mi brand, as it will be launching premium smartphones with 5G. Poco will have its own set of challenges and needs a dedicated strategy to challenge the competitors," said Counterpoint analyst Parv Sharma.
Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst techARC notes, "It needs to be seen how can POCO play as a standalone brand in an already built up market. There are competitors around. Primarily comparing Mi and POCO spread across India, it's more or less same. So states where Mi is strong, POCO is also strong. There is only one sweet spot for POCO which is Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. POCO's share among active 4G Smartphone users in these two states is a little over 14% against Mi's 8.1%."