Pana­sonic Looks to En­gage with De­vel­op­ers in In­dia!

Pana­sonic en­tered the In­dian smart­phone mar­ket last year. In just one year, the company has as­sessed the po­ten­tial of the mar­ket and has found that it could make In­dia the head­quar­ters for its smart­phone di­vi­sion. But this can­not hap­pen with­out that bit o

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Pana­sonic is all set to launch 15 smart­phones and eight fea­ture phones in In­dia this year. While the company will keep its fo­cus on the smart­phone seg­ment, it has no plans of los­ing its fea­ture phone lovers as Pana­sonic be­lieves that there is still scope for the lat­ter in the In­dian mar­ket. That said, Pana­sonic will invest more en­ergy in grab­bing what it hopes will be a 5 per cent share in the In­dian smart­phone mar­ket. And that will hap­pen with the help of An­droid. Speak­ing about the strat­egy, Pankaj Rana, head, smart­phones and tablets, Pana­sonic In­dia Pvt Ltd, says, “We are bank­ing on An­droid purely be­cause it pro­vides the choice of cus­tomi­sa­tion. Based on this abil­ity of An­droid, we have cre­ated a very dif­fer­ent user ex­pe­ri­ence for Pana­sonic smart­phones.” What Rana is re­fer­ring to here is the sin­gle fit- home UI launched by Pana­sonic. He ex­plains, “While we have pro­vided the stan­dard An­droid UI in the fea­ture phones, the highly- ef­fi­cient fit- home UI is avail­able on Pana­sonic smart­phones. When work­ing on the stan­dard An­droid UI, users need to use both hands to per­form any task. How­ever, the fit- home UI al­lows sin­gle- hand op­er­a­tions, mak­ing it easy for the user to func­tion.”

Yet another fea­ture of the UI is that it can be op­er­ated in the land­scape mode. Rana claims that many phones do not al­low the use of var­i­ous func­tions like set­tings, et al, in the land­scape mode. He says, “We have kept the com­fort of the users as our top pri­or­ity and, hence, de­signed the UI in such a way that it of­fers a tablet- like ex­pe­ri­ence as well. The Pana­sonic Eluga is a 12.7cm ( 5- inch) phone. This kind of a UI will be a great ad­van­tage on big screen de­vices. For users of fea­ture phones who are mi­grat­ing to smart­phones now, this kind of UI makes the tran­si­tion eas­ier.”

Com­ing soon: An ex­clu­sive Pana­sonic app store

Well, if you thought the unique user ex­pe­ri­ence was the end of the show, hold on. There’s more com­ing… The company plans to leave no stone un­turned when it comes to mak­ing its An­droid ex­pe­ri­ence com­plete for the In­dian re­gion. Rana re­veals, “We are plan­ning to come up with a Pana­sonic ex­clu­sive app store, which should come to ex­is­tence in the next 3- 4 months.”

“The company plans to do the hir­ing for the in-house team within the next six months. The team may com­prise about 100 peo­ple. Rana clar­i­fies that the de­vel­op­ers hired in In­dia are go­ing to be based in Gur­gaon, Ben­galuru and Hy­der­abad.”

When it comes to the de­vel­op­ment for this app store, Pana­sonic will look at hir­ing in- house de­vel­op­ers, as well as as­so­ciate with third party de­vel­op­ers. Rana says, “We will look at all pos­si­ble ways to make our app ecosys­tem an en­riched one. Just for the record, this UI has been built within the company, with en­gi­neers from var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing In­dia, Ja­pan and Viet­nam. For the ex­clu­sive app store that we are plan­ning to build, we will have some third- party de­vel­op­ers. But be­sides that, we plan to de­velop our in- house team as well. Right now, we have about 25 soft­ware en­gi­neers work­ing with us in In­dia, who are from Ja­pan. We also have some Viet­namese re­sources work­ing for us.”

The company plans to do the hir­ing for the in­house team within the next six months. The team may com­prise about 100 peo­ple. Rana clar­i­fies that the de­vel­op­ers hired in In­dia are go­ing to be based in Gur­gaon, Ben­galuru and Hy­der­abad. He says, “We al­ready have about 20 de­vel­op­ers in Ben­galuru, who are on third party rolls. We are in the process of switch­ing them to the company’s rolls over the next cou­ple of months. Sim­i­larly, we have about 10 de­vel­op­ers in Gur­gaon. In ad­di­tion, our R& D team in Viet­nam has 70 mem­bers. We are also plan­ning to shift the Viet­nam op­er­a­tions to In­dia, mak­ing the coun­try our smart­phone head­quar­ters.”

To take the idea of the Pana­sonic-ex­clu­sive app store fur­ther, the company is plan­ning some de­vel­op­ers’ en­gage­ment ac­tiv­i­ties this Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

The con­sumer is the king!

While Rana as­serts that Pana­sonic can make one of the best of­fer­ings in the smart­phone world, he recog­nises that con­sumers are look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent ev­ery time, when it comes to th­ese fancy de­vices. He says, “Right now, com­pa­nies are work­ing on the UI level to of­fer that new­ness in the ex­pe­ri­ence. But six months down the line, things will not re­main the same. The sit­u­a­tion is bound to change and, to sur­vive in this business, de­vel­op­ers need to pre­dict the tastes of the con­sumers. But for now, it is about pro­vid­ing an easy ex­pe­ri­ence, so that the fea­ture phone users who are look­ing to mi­grate to smart­phones find it con­ve­nient enough.”

Pankaj Rana, head, smart­phones and tablets, Pana­sonic In­dia Pvt Ltd

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