If you live in India, you’re probably familiar about the once-popular smartphone brand Micromax, its success story, and what led to its downfall. In this article, we’ll be looking at 10 interesting facts about Micromax that you probably didn’t know about.
It was Originally a Software Company
This might sound weird but, Micromax was originally a Software focused company that specialized in embedded devices domain (Developing embedded boards like Raspberry PI, etc.)
The company later entered the mobile handset business in 2010 and that’s when it became one of the largest smartphone brands in India and 10th largest in the world.
Who’s the Founder and what did he use to do?
Micromax was founded by Rahul Sharma along with his friends Vikas Jain, Sumeet Arora, and Rajesh Aggarwal in the year 2000. Prior to that, he completed his Electrical Engineering degree from Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University in Nagpur. He also has a bachelor in Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.
In an interview, Rahul Sharma said “We were fresh out of college and quite raw when we first started off back in 1999. It was around the time when the dot-com boom was taking off and all I could think of was software – in fact, the company initially went by the name ‘Micromax Software’.”
How did the idea of the First phone come up?
The idea came up when he came across a PCO in a village in Bengal where he was told there was no electricity. The PCO drew signals from a massive antenna on a nearby building and took power from a truck battery. Then he thought to himself, how did the village charge the battery when there was no electricity?
“I probed a little and met a man who claimed to be making Rs 3000 by driving the battery every night to another village 11 km away, charge it overnight and bring it back to the first village by daybreak,” he said. Sharma understood that this could be a great opportunity for doing something big.
He went back and told his co-founders that we should start a mobile phone business in India. With brands like LG, Samsung, and Motorola which were quite popular at that time, the idea met with a lot of scepticism in the beginning, he said.
Micromax’s’ first phone was the Andro A60 which was launched in November 2010 as a budget phone. The phone cost Rs 6,999 and was very well received by the Indian audience. The Andro A60 had a 2.8-inch touch screen and ran on Android 2.1 Eclair. It had a 3.2-megapixel camera and 150MB of internal storage which was expandable up to 32GB.
The Road to Becoming No.1
After its success in the smartphone market, the brand entered the tablet market and was quite successful there as well. In Q2 2014, the brand’s sales in India exceeded those of Samsung and it became the number one mobile manufacturer in India followed by Samsung at No.2 and Nokia at No.3 according to counterpoint research.
They had planned to Enter the American Market
After becoming the No.1 smartphone brand in India, all eyes were on the American market but, due to the immense competition in India from brands like Xiaomi, Samsung, and Apple, the brand feared the loss of dominance in India and didn’t expand.
Micromax fired Ex- Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor
Micromax firing Sanjay Kapoor was one of the biggest controversies in the tech industry. They dismissed Sanjay Kapoor for no reason which led him to file a claim of Rs 600-700 crore against Micromax. Some of the rumours suggested that the different working styles of Kapoor and the company led to a breakdown in his relationship with promoters. The company also accused him of inflated expense claims as a reason for dismissal.
Micromax was the First brand to Appoint a Hollywood Star as a Brand Ambassador
Now, if you’re a huge Marvel Comics fan and an X-Men fan in general, you probably know the character “The Wolverine” played by Hugh Jackman. Micromax was the first Indian smartphone manufacturer to appoint a Hollywood start as its brand ambassador. The actor endorsed the Canvas series of smartphones for Micromax.
It was at the time of starting the subsidiary Yu Televentures when Jackman was appointed as a brand ambassador.
Micromax Entered the Tablet Market in 2011
After the brand’s continued success in the smartphone industry, the company also stepped into the Tablet market in 2011, which was quite big at that time. The tablet series was called Funbook and there were a lot of models starting from the Funbook Kids to Funbook P255.
Not only tablets but, Micromax has also made TVs, Washing machines, etc but, one of the primary reasons why they failed is due to the lack of proper after-sales service.
They launched one of the Lightest touch screen phones by partnering with Modu
Modu was an Israeli smartphone brand known for manufacturing light Android phones. Micromax partnered with Modu and launched the Modu T on 22nd October 2010. The smartphone ran BREW OS out of the box, housed a 5-megapixel camera and the USP of the device was interchangeable modules like on the LG G5 or the Moto Z and the lightweight.
Unfortunately, this partnership didn’t turn out to be that great as the phone didn’t sell a lot.
Controversy with OnePlus
Micromax battled OnePlus over who’d use Cyanogen OS which was one of the most popular Android skins of that time. OnePlus signed an agreement with Cyanogen for using and distributing their technology anywhere in the world except mainland China in February 2014 after which Micromax signed an exclusive license with them for South Asia.)
So, Micromax tried to take exclusivity in India for Cyanogen OS. The disputes were resolve in May 2015 when Micromax won the dispute and that’s when OnePlus started its OxygenOS development.
Micromax is all set to make a comeback in India with the “Vocal for Local” initiative. It has set up a smartphone design lab in India where 90% of its phones will be designed and manufactured.