Friday, January 29, 2010

Infibeam Pi : Indian Kindle ?

Brand : Infibeam Pi
Company : Infibeam.com

Brand Analysis Count # 442

It is very risky to write about a product before it is launched in the market. Many marketing commentators have failed in predicting the success of a product before being practically launched in the market.

Infibeam Pi can be termed as India's answer to Amazon Kindle. Pi is an e-book reader from Infibeam.com . Infibeam is one of the largest Business to Consumer portals in India. The company which was launched in 2007 also has one of the largest inventory of books. Infibeam is promoted by Mr Vishal Mehta who chucked his juicy job in USA to pursue his entrepreneurial passion .

Pi is a product like the world famous Amazon Kindle. This e-book reader comes with the same technology of E-ink that the Kindle uses. The form factor also is strikingly similar. But what comes as the biggest coup of all sorts is the price. While Kindle is shipped to India at a price of about Rs 18,000, Pi is priced at Rs 9999 ( introductory offer).

In one of my earlier posts, I had written that the aggressive high pricing of globally successful brands in India can lead to opening up opportunities that other players can grab. Pi is one such striking example.

Amazon had to price its Kindle at Rs 18,000 + because of duties and taxes .Such a globally famous product launching in India created enough buzz and virtually created a market for e-readers in India. Infibeam Pi became the first Indian brand to take advantage of that buzz. To add to the buzz, the launch of iPad also has significantly increased the consumer interest in the market for e-book readers in India.

In that scenario, the launch of Pi is very significant. Although Pi definitely have a first mover advantage, the path is not so smooth. The product is impressive. Pi comes with an expandable memory slot and also can play music. The company claims a battery charge life of 7 days. The brand can read a wide range of formats like Pdf,Mob, Doc etc . ( Read specs here). To complement the reader, Infibeam also has an e-book store which has a good collection of books in the electronic format.

The major marketing issue for Pi is to develop the market for e-book readers. Even though Indian consumers are aware about such a product, Pi needs to change the reading habits of the consumers to a certain extent. It starts with the purchasing of e-books and the first convincing is that e-book which is non-physical offers the same value as the book ( physical). Second convincing is about the reading habit. Consumers need to experience the product first inorder to understand the convenience of using an e-book reader. He needs to feel that he gets the same effect when he reads a physical book.

Infibeam also has a tough task of establishing trust in the potential users. Many consumers are not aware of such a company existing. The launch of Pi gave the Infibeam lot of PR but Infibeam needs to establish its credentials because consumers look for trust while purchasing a durable item like a e-book reader.

Since this is an electronic device , there will be lot of apprehensions about the quality , durability and servicability of Pi. Infibeam, being a portal, will have to convince the customer that it will be able to provide service support in case something goes wrong. If the consumer has to ship the product to avail the service, it is not going to help the product to get accepted fast. Infibeam should convince the consumer about the battery life and whether this product can be serviced/repaired in the event of a complaint. I am sure that the product will work fine for the first year but after that ? The best way for Pi is to give a 5 year warranty that will add lot of value for the brand. This will prompt those doubtful consumers to free up their purse strings without waiting for reviews or peer feedback.

Being a platform like a e-store and selling a device are two different ball game. Google recently understood that when it launched its first device Nexus One. Durables needs a channel which can sell and support the product . Otherwise it will be the consumers who will feel stranded when they face product related issues. In the case of Infibeam Pi also, the brand has to create a proper service network before venturing into selling Pi in a big way.

Infibeam has introduced the right product at the right price. As a consumer , I would be happy if the price comes down by a couple of thousands. Now what Infibeam has to do is to build a business architecture around this device. If the products performs well and the service is accessible and good, Infibeam has a winner in hand and Kindle will have to forget the Indian market.