Never mind the iPhone in the photo above. In the latest example of a major celebrity extending his or her personal brand, Bollywood and cinema superstar Salman Khan is throwing his hat in the smartphone ring with his own branded mobile phone.
“We have just started our entry into the category, we need to be careful,’” said Khan to the Economic Times in confirming the brand extension, who registered BeingSmart as the desired brand name back in March, to the Economic Times of India. “If people buy our products and like it, we will see. We are starting the smartphones in small numbers and we hope to have minimum losses and maximum gain.”
One of the most popular actors in the world, Khan already produces the Being Human apparel line as an extension of his Being Human foundation, “is targeting the budget and mid-range segment and planning to leverage his huge Indian fan base for his ‘BeingSmart’ brand for which he’s chosen a Chinese plant for manufacture. He’s assembled a management team with leadership from stints at Micromax and Samsung,” according to the Economic Times.
“Two smartphone models running Android will be priced between Rs 8,000-Rs 20,000 and sold first exclusively online, to be followed by authorized retail chains across the country and at Being Human stores,” the Times added.
An executive involved told PC Mag, “BeingSmart will be positioned against the Chinese smartphone brigade — Oppo Vivo and Xiaomi — at a time domestic handset makers such as Micromax and Intex are facing tremendous competition and, like the Being Human apparel line, proceeds from the profit will be ploughed back into charity and social work that Salman Khan does with his Being Human Foundation.”
Shobhit Srivastava, Research Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems, Counterpoint Research, said that “For the smartphone to be successful, it will have to be different from the current offerings in the market.” “The differentiating can be on any of the software or hardware going into the phone. A price point of below Rs 10,000 will make the phone accessible to a number of users looking for an upgrade from a cheaper device.”
Brand Smart phones will have Google Maps show footpaths as roads, will launch on Eid, come with pre-installed car games and shooting games, accommodate Tinder (but not Shaadi.com) and integrate Virgin mobile sim cards.
“Salman’s fan club will definitely give it a leg up but, in the long run, the brand needs to differentiate itself to stand out in the crowd,” added CMR analyst Krishna Mukherjee.
“Bhaijaan’s range of mobiles will surely be the most ‘Wanted’ — he is capitalising on his personal popularity to start this new business. How he will be able to build it into a sustainable enterprise remains to be seen,” said Jaideep Mehta, Managing Director, IDC South Asia.
Khan commands a huge fan base in India that can be leveraged. His film credits include lead roles in action films including Dabangg (2010), Bodyguard (2011), Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Kick (2014), Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) and Sultan (2016)—all ranking among the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time.
Faisal Kawoosa, a telecom analyst at India’s CyberMedia Research (CMR), said of Khan’s branded smartphone plans, “It’s a two-way strategy for connecting with the youth and building a community. Firstly, smartphones somehow connect with today’s youth and creating such a product line connotes connecting with the youth community. Secondly, this will open up a channel for Salman’s fan club to access exclusive Salman content and go for huge content consumption.”