It's heard that you are gearing up to launch T-Series mobile phones in a big way early next year. Could you elaborate a bit on that?
Actually we had a soft launch of T-Series mobile phones sometime in June this year. It was more like a Test Marketing for our brand of mobile phones and we got a very good response. In fact without any major promotion and publicity campaign we sold close to 100000 handsets. Buoyed by the response, we are now going the full hog to launch our brand of T-Series mobile phones from January 2011. This time we would have a proper publicity and promotional campaign with T.V. ads, print ads, hoardings etc. to create the necessary awareness. We are looking at a Rs. 400 crore turnover from this business in the very first year and our whole team is very confident that we should be able to achieve the target.
Are the mobile phones available in GSM or CDMA?
As of now it's on GSM but we'll be soon also launching CDMA phones.
How did the idea to diversify into the mobile handset business come to your mind?
I don't look it as a diversification; it's more like an extension of our existing business itself. Today music is hugely listened to on mobile phones. The mobile phone is like hardware to play music. Most people listen to music on their mobile rather than even investing in a CD player. Music on mobiles is a big business and we have been actively involved in this area with Hungama Mobile as our digital partners for a long time now. We've been doing lots of stuff in this area such as launching pre-loaded memory cards and USB drives and have now come up with the idea to sell music with hardware (in this case-the mobile phone) at an affordable cost. I had this idea in my mind for many months and I in fact even bounced off this idea to Mr. Neeraj Roy (CEO of Hungama) and he too suggested that this is one space that I should get into. Our mobiles will also have pre-loaded music which will give the users a wide variety of music to listen. It will be like a Music Phone. The idea is to sell music with hardware (in this case-the mobile phone) at an affordable cost.
How are the handsets priced?
The pricing is very affordable. The basic range starts from approx Rs.1200 -Rs. 1500. Then there are also phones in the segment of Rs.2200 - Rs.2500 which come with pre-loaded music. We would also be looking at launching hi-end phones in the days to come.
How many variants / models of T-Series mobile phones are currently available in the market?
Right now, we have around 6 -7 models but as I said, we are launching a whole range of new models in January.
As far as availability is concerned, are you planning to retail the phones only in the big metros or across India?
By January 2011, the mobile phones will be available all over India. We are not targeting any one particular zone as we want to make our presence felt across the country. For any brand to find a widespread appeal across the country it takes time and we know that it's going to take a while for us to reach all over too but we are up for the challenge.
Bhushan Kumar Would the promotional campaign scheduled to commence in January feature any leading Bollywood star?
No...our initial promotion and planning will focus on Music being the main Celebrity. We don't really need the presence of a star or a well-known face at least in the first phase of launch. We will be integrating music in a way like no one else can and Hungama is helping us in that. A lot of handsets do come with pre-loaded music but there isn't much thinking gone into the choice of songs, music etc. Since music is our forte, we will put in a lot of thought and selecting the right mix of songs and music (from T-Series' huge library) for our mobile phones. In fact as I told you earlier, without doing any publicity and promotions, we were able to sell around 100000 handsets during the test marketing which is by itself is a big feat. Moreover, our handsets were sold at the same counters where handsets by other top players were being retailed. This goes to show that our brand name T-Series has helped in creating such a pull for the product and based on the response we are now planning a big launch backed by a solid marketing and promotional campaign in January 2011.
Finally how do you look back at this year 2010 which has turned out to be yet another super-successful year for T-Series music-wise?
Yes...this year has been exceptionally good for us. It started with 3 Idiots the music of which released towards the end of 2009. The music of films such as Ishqiya, Housefull, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Anjaana Anjaani all worked really well. Then you had Dabangg which of course was the biggest hit of them all. And now we are looking forward to end the year on a high with the music of Tees Maar Khan.