In the midst of smartphone manufacturer war, there is one Vietnamese brand that is standing still, it’s Mobiistar. Mobiistar is not a brand-new name on the market, it was created long time ago. And through numerous changes on the market, it still prove to be one of the best contender available in the entry level segment. Spyer Tech has a chance to sit down with Mr. Kha – one of the Mobiistar founders – to learn about its success.
Hello Mr. Kha, can you share with me the foundation of Mobiistar?
Mobiistar was founded in 2009 by Kha (Carl) and two other partners. We came from different background, but all related to mobile phones. Kha moved from a 9-years corporate life at Ericsson and Sony Ericsson, with the last 5 years as Country Manager. The other two founders were long-time distributors for Sony Ericsson, HTC and Motorola. The of us came together and believed that with all the experience in mobile phone industry, we could do something bigger than just a corporate guy or a distributor.
We planned for something big, but did not expect a very rocky start. From 2009 till 2011, the brand had just done some mediocre feature phones, which barely had any chance against big local brands and the Nokia giant. However, they struck some luck with the first smartphone Touch S01 in 2012. Market acceptance was positive, and it created momentum for important milestone products such as Prime 508 (nicknamed “The Black Diamond”), then Prime X (the first CNC metal and glass body smartphone), then recently the successful selfie camera selfie Zumbo S2 and S2 Dual.
Mobiistar is now the only Vietnamese smartphone brand left on the market, what is your secret?
For us, we think we were lucky. But people don’t believe that we keep being lucky years after years. So I have to coin some story about our relentless effort to fight. Actually, Mobiistar is a very small company. Because we are small, we always try harder. Our whole team works day and night for something small but important to our users’ experience. Our products are not the best in the market. But we believe our users believe in us, therefore in our effort we try to bring them more enjoyment in the Mobiistar affordable products.
Talking about users, we also communicate 24/7 with them through social network and Facebook fanpage http://facebook.com/mobiistar. They tell us what we can improve, and send us warning, straightforward comments to inspect and fix. We appreciate our fans and friends’ companion during the hard years.
Mr. Kha, Co-Founder of Mobiistar
We can’t go overseas and say “We are Vietnamese please support”. Our products have to be good to survive the market.
What is the size of Mobiistar at the moment? And what are the challenges that Mobiistar is facing right now?
We have about 400 people working across the country and in other countries like China and Dubai. We sell to the market around 100k phones every month.
Again, Mobiistar is a small company. Fighting the competition against all the giants from overseas, especially new Chinese brands has never been easy. Especially, these “Goliath” used to be some David not long ago in their home country. So they know all the weaknesses and challenges a local “David” has to go through. It’s so easy for them to squeeze brands like Mobiistar. So, we to play a game of a smartphone “David”. Our only ambition is to keep all our customers with us. Model after model.
Are you planning on expanding to overseas?
Yes. We are planning to go overseas. For the last one year, we’ve been looking for opportunities in different overseas markets. There are still markets for emerging brands like Mobiistar. We have studied the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Countries) market and have found that we have chances there. Talking about this market, people always think of the superrich guys with luxury products. We have found that besides “a few good” affluent consumers, about 80% of the workers there are expat, with good income, but not always superrich. They work and send most of their income home. They spare some money for their personal spending, including mobile phones. We find them promising to become our target customers. We have finalized with a local distributors and local retailers to sell our products by the end of 2017. Our product team, service team and back end system have been travelling there several times to set up and test the products. We are almost ready.
We have a dream to bring our brand to several countries. That’s why we told ourselves not to rely on the equity of being “Vietnamese”, then call for support from our Vietnamese fellows. This thought process gives us some preparation for going overseas, where you can’t say that “We are Vietnamese please support”. Still, it’s early to say anything when the product has not hit the market yet.
We will try to keep the same product lines and naming system for products in international markets. However, there may be variables, where some names will sound better in a local scenario, we are flexible to change. Till now we have prepared the capacity for both Vietnam and GCC markets.