India an extremely important market for us, plan to expand beyond audio: Nothing India VP

The London-based company, which is backed by Indian entrepreneur Kunal Shah, has partnered with Walmart-owned Flipkart for its foray into the Indian market.
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Nothing — a consumer tech venture by OnePlus Co-founder Carl Pei — is keen on building an ecosystem of "connected" products and services, and is counting on India to be one of its important markets, a top company official said.

The London-based company — which is backed by Indian entrepreneur Kunal Shah — has partnered with Walmart-owned Flipkart for its foray into the Indian market.

Nothing's first product, 'Ear 1' is slated to launch globally later this month.

"India is an extremely important market for us and by partnering with one of the largest e-commerce players in the region, we are establishing our commitment for the region...

"We plan on expanding well beyond audio. Our business model is centred on building an ecosystem of products and services that are all connected, simple to use and feature iconic designs," Nothing India Vice President and General Manager Manu Sharma told PTI.

Carl Pei twitter handle

He added that eventually all these different devices will speak to one another, and people will be able to organise their entire digital life in one connected space.

Sharma said the company is currently focused on bringing Nothing Ear (1) to users, including in India.

"All of our products are being designed in Europe and in February... Our products are being expertly assembled around the world. The important thing is that our future customers and stakeholders can rely on us to deliver quality products with our unique design approach, so we will always remain open and flexible in our supply chain," he added.

Nothing has raised $22 million from a clutch of investors, including GV (formerly Google Ventures), Casey Neistat (YouTube personality and Beme co-founder), Twitch Co-founder Kevin Lin and Reddit Chief Executive Officer Steve Huffman.

Talking about opportunity in the wearables segment in India, Sharma said the true wireless earbuds space is growing considerably around the world and in India year-on-year.

"While it's too early to comment on the market share, I believe we have a late mover advantage in that we have seen what works and what doesn't. We leveraged this knowledge to create a new design with leading specs and with a differentiated approach to design that will stand out among so many earbuds that look similar to one another," he added.

As an area of hyper-growth, the earphones market will also provide a fertile backdrop as Nothing strengthens its capabilities and prepares to enter new product categories, Sharma said, adding that Ear (1) is just the start of its journey.

In India, the wearables market posted 144.3 percent year-on-year growth in 2020, exiting 2020 with 36.4 million unit shipments.

Earwear device shipments grew more than three-fold in 2020 compared to the previous year, mainly driven by the affordable launches, and expanding use cases beyond entertainment like virtual meetings and e-learning requirements.

Truly Wireless Stereo (TWS) devices were the top gainer seeing a 10-fold increase with shipments totaling 11.3 million units in 2020, as per IDC.

The earwear category accounted for 83.6 percent of the overall wearable market share with 30.4 million unit shipments in 2020.

Boat accounted for one-third of the category shipments, followed by Samsung (portfolio included JBL, Harman Kardon and Infinity) with 14.5 percent share in 2020. In the TWS segment, Boat led the segment with 24.6 percent share in 2020, followed by Realme (13.5 percent share).

According to Flipkart Senior Director (Electronics) Rakesh Krishnan, India is one of the fastest-growing markets for wearables in the world, and is witnessing nearly 85 percent growth in the overall audio segment in the last one year, with 125 percent growth in non-metros.

"There is a huge scope for increasing the adoption of wearable devices in India and the foray of Nothing in this space will help expand the market further.

"The extended Work from Home scenario has further heightened the demand for electronics essentials, including true wireless earbuds... Consumer sentiment has been positive and we have seen this in the past few months, during and post lockdown," Krishnan said.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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