Micromax backed Yu, will pursue a Smarter Ecosystem and You


In the book, Age of Context, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel talk about the new “context”brewing in the tech world that is going to impact every human being.

We believe that in phones and laptops the brands and operating systems the consumer chose was starting to matter less. The hardware forms from multiple suppliers are beginning to resemble each other and devices perform extremely similar functions. This may be bad for the makers, but it is good for the users. People will use such devices more as they become low-cost commodities. The real mobile news is not in the devices, but how the software has changed.”

The New York Times estimated that more than 100,000 worldwide app publishers offered more than 1.2 million mobile apps by the end of 2011. According to Gartner, mobile apps were downloaded over 45 billion times by the end of 2012 – more than six times for every man, woman and child on earth, and that number is exponentially growing. Your device is your key to the power of the Internet. It is where the super storm of context thunders into your life.

And this is exactly the thunder Rahul Sharma is aiming to create and ride with his new venture Yu TeleVentures, a new initiative from the Micromax stable.

Rahul Sharma, Founder, Micromax

“The question we asked ourselves was how best can we serve the digital natives, provide them with the best experience and make their day-to-day lives easy and meaningful? And Yu was born as part of this thinking process internally,” says Rahul. “Yu is working to build an exciting ecosystem of connected devices and connected people.”

The venture is also strategically timed in a market where we’ll -sooner or later- see a plateauing of mobile devices, which currently the laptop market is witnessing.

If you look historically, our biggest strength has been to understand people. We understand what people need, what they want, what are the gaps in the market and we come up with products that answer those lacks. From the one-month battery back up phone to dual SIMs, we did many products that were first in the market.

Many analysts and armchair experts questioned and predicted our failure. And we only got appreciation and love from the users. This understanding of consumer behaviour and need will be the underpinning of Yu as we build an intelligent and connected ecosystem, elaborates Rahul.

He adds on, “Also, today we still believe there is a gap as far as what Android is offering to the end consumer. A lot of customisation and services need to be built for the consumer to make their lives easy in its true sense. We are gunning to make that available.”

The question before Yu was to build the operating system for this new ecosystem themselves or partner with a like-minded player. The company chose the latter. "We’ve partnered with Cyanogen as we believe it provides ‘android on steroids," says Rahul with a smile.

If you specifically look at Indian market, we have plenty things that can be done. From education to healthcare to entertainment, the opportunity to innovate is abundant.

“Just recently someone I know from a small town called me to seek help to connect to a doctor. His mother was unwell and an appointment with a doctor from a big hospital was being given to him after eight weeks. That to me is ridiculous. His mother needs care now, not after eight weeks. And this is where I see how a connected ecosystem of devices and apps can play a role. Why can’t an online screening of your device make these kinds of solutions accessible to millions of people. With 4G coming, bandwidth will not be an issue and innovative solutions need to just be available,” says Rahul.

Even in areas like wearable [technology], today we have bands and watches: what else can be there? How do you connect everything is the question we’re asking? It’s still an open land of opportunities.

Simple stuff like being able to take pictures and take printouts on-the-go at your home or just being able to choose wine according to food you’ve ordered. From delight to meaning, we will build an ecosystem of best experiences for consumers,” adds Rahul.

And will Yu build everything in-house? “It will be a mix of build and buy for us,” says Rahul. This may, indeed, present itself as a lucrative opportunity for startups building interesting products.


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