India’s Obi Mobile, a budget smartphone brand co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley, has launched in the Middle East with a lineup of five devices.
The range includes the Octopus S520, the Falcon S451, Hornbill S551, Wolverine S501, and Obi F240, priced between Dhs799 for the flagship Octopus and Dhs99 for the budget F240 feature phone.
Sculley told Gulf Business he was targeting an eventual overall market share of five per cent in the Middle East, with an initial investment of $20 million.
“We said how can we take Apple’s brilliance at the premier end of the market and translate it to a market that Apple has no interest to participate in? Which is a very different price point, but yet there are a lot of young people who just don’t have the budget to be able to buy a smartphone at a higher price,” Sculley said in explaining the company’s strategy.
He was not coy, however, in suggesting what his former Apple compatriot Steve Jobs would think of the Obi Mobile devices. “Steve being Steve would say, you can do alot better,” he said.
Leading the five devices launched in Dubai last night is the 5-inch display Octopus S520, powered by an octa-core 1.7GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and feauturing 8GB of storage, dual sim functionality and a 8MP rear camera.
The lower tier Obi Falcon S541 boasts a 5-inch screen, 1.3GHz dual core processor, 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 8MP rotating camera, while the Hornbill comes with similar specs but a more powerful 1.3GHz quad core processor.
The Wolverine S501 has the same specs as the Falcon S451 only with a rear key utilising the index finger for volume control, and 5MP camera and Obi’s feature phone the F240, includes a 0.3MP camera, loudspeaker and Bluetooth functionality.
The CEO of Obi’s Middle East distributor Jumbo Electronics, Vishesh Bhatia, revealed the devices would be rolled out in the UAE first, followed by most of the lower Gulf, with other markets to follow next year.
“It’s a huge market, almost 500,000 smartphones a month are sold out here so getting a share of that is really our first focus point,” he said.