In a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make in India and Digital India initiatives, Chinese internet and technology conglomerate LeEco is eyeing a manufacturing base along with research and development centres in the country, the company's vice chairman and co-founder has said.
LeEco sees great potential in India in terms of technology and is also looking forward to setting up retail and offline stores in the country.
"We have already applied for the single-brand retail licence with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The ministry for communications and information technology has given us options like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Raipur's electronic cluster, Bhopal and Bhilwada (Rajasthan) to set up our manufacturing base. We will evaluate all the options before finalising our manufacturing location," Liu Hong, vice chairman and co-founder, LeEco, told IANS in an interview here.
"We are looking forward to meet the Indian prime minister and the telecom minister because we really want to contribute for 'Make in India' and 'Digital India' initiatives. We would like them to understand our ecosystem and support us manufacture in the country," Hong added.
After storming the Indian market with its disruptive marketing strategies, registering a sale of over 200,000 smartphones on e-tailer Flipkart, LeEco is now set to sell its products via retail stores.
"We plan to open eight-10 LeEco stores across the country as well as 500 franchise stores at an initial investment of nearly Rs.50 crore," Hong added. The company plans to set up offline stores in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, among others.
Its fully-owned exclusive retail stores will house products like Le "Superphones", Le TVs, VR (virtual reality) headsets, Bluetooth devices and power banks.
LeEco is also planning to set up in-house Content Delivery Networks (CND) across 10 cities in India with an initial investement of $10 million to ensure seamless content distribution.
"India has some of the best software engineers in the world. We will start with our research and development centre in Bengaluru. We would like to connect the Indian technology with our ecosystem and create products for the global users. We will make our ties more stronger," Hong told IANS.
According to a recent study by Counterpoint Research, India has become the second-biggest smartphone market in terms of active unique smartphone users, crossing 220 million users and surpassing the US market.
"India is now on the way China has already been and will be leading the smartphone market in the near future. The Indian consumers are demanding high-quality phones at reasonable price. We acknowledge this and see a great potential of manufacturing here," Hong stated.
"Indian users are price sensitive. Samsung and Apple are available but are highly-priced; so we sell our products at a disruptive price with high quality," Hong added.
Talking about competing with other brands in the Indian market, Hong said that LeEco is not just a smartphone brand but also a global internet technology company with a unique ecosystem.
"Our goal is to be among the top three players in the Indian market soon. LeEco's content -- be it movies, dramas, reality shows, music or sports - is central to our ecosystem which we will replicate in India," the LeEco co-founder told IANS.
LeEco recently launched three "superphones", a range of television sets and the world's first driverless concept Super Car here.
The three superphones -- "Le 2", "Le 2 Pro" and "Le Max 2" -- are loaded with USB Type-C audio port feature CDLA (Continual Digital Lossless Audio) technology to offer high-quality audio.
All three "Superphones" have a metal unibody design, thin bezels on the front and a fingerprint scanner for extra security.
The "superphones" run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS wrapped under LeEco's customised EUI 5.5.