Zeeshan Akhktar is the founder and CEO of QMobile. Educated from US, he started his career in brand marketing, and worked with LG and Microsoft in Pakistan. Focusing on Pakistani communications industry, Zeeshan founded QMobile in 2008. He dreams about seeing QMobile Pakistans most used and appreciated handset brand in every major consumer segment. Talking with Technology Times, Zeeshan shares his experience about brand positioning in Pakistan
Brief us about your professional background and expertise.
Zeeshan Akhtar: In my early stage of studentship I moved to the US for my higher education. After returning to Pakistan, I started working with brands such as LG and Microsoft. At that time, the Pakistani IT industry was booming, and as such my focus was more on IT and not mobile phones. However, I soon realised that mobile phones would change the shape of the Pakistani communications industry. Thats when we started with the LG and Samsung mobile phone distribution.
Brief us about QMobiles vision and how it differs from its competitors?
I founded QMobile in 2008. It is committed to providing an amazing customer experience. Therefore, our entire business model revolves around this philosophy, which ensures compliance with all prevailing global standards. My dream is to see QMobile become Pakistans most used and appreciated handset brand in every major consumer segment.
QMobile is comparatively a new brand in the market; what kind of competition you faced in Pakistan?
Our biggest challenge was gaining the recognition and trust of consumers. The mobile phone is an extremely personal gadget – you keep it on your side table, in your pocket, by your pillow. By the grace of the Almighty, QMobile has already become a well-recognised and much-appreciated brand in Pakistan. In the space of just a few years, we have grown exponentially and our brand value has also increased tremendously, making us the second largest mobile phone brand in the market in terms of volume. Its important to bear in mind that Pakistan is an extremely volatile market when it comes to mobile phones; nonetheless, we have maintained a steady pace in terms of growth, quality of product and service provision to our valued consumers.
Now a days, affordability is the major concern of consumer? In price competition where does QMobile stand?
We also have an extremely clear vision on how we hope to upgrade the lifestyles of Pakistani consumers by providing them with mobile phones and handheld devices equipped with the latest technologies and features at the most competitive and affordable prices. At QMobile we have always provided our consumers with the latest technologies at the most affordable prices.
Do you think the current regulations are favourable for consumer market?
In recent years Pakistans telecom sector has been a major contributor in Pakistans economy and I believe this growth would not have been possible without adequate and well devised regulations from the authorities.
Do you face challenges from grey market? What plans you have to tackle this?
We have a very strong distribution network throughout Pakistan and we are well equipped to avoid such issues.
How do you see the Android market in Pakistan?
At QMobile, we are strong evangelists of the Android operating system. Android has already demonstrated itself to be an extremely stable platform for information-cum-enterprise use, as well as entertainment and media consumption. Our upcoming product line will therefore be based on Android.
How do you compare Pakistani handset market with regional markets?
The Pakistani mobile phone market is rapidly growing and there is still potential for other players to enter this industry. In a certain way the Pakistani mobile handset market is extremely volatile, especially when it comes to price. This has been made all the more tricky when you take into account the fact that Pakistani mobile phone users associate certain features with certain price points. The challenge is to bring to market affordable products with all the features required by consumers.
Do you agree that language is a barrier in the promotion of handset market in Pakistan?
I dont think the Pakistani cell phone customers have shown any sign such as the mobile phone market is constantly growing.
How QMobile is supporting innovation activities in Pakistan?
Q Mobile recognizes youth as its key target market, therefore, anything developed by them or for them would be of key value to us and we definitely look forward to patronize such talents for mutual benefits.
Mobile has now entered the smart phone market, what prompted you to do that? Do you foresee a growth in demand for such devices?
Entering the smart phone market was not an option for us, but a necessity. The future belongs to smart hand held devices. Moving forward, I believe we will soon see regular featured phones (within certain price segments) replaced by smart phones. The world is changing swiftly and consumers today expect access to information at their fingertips. We are moving from a device-led environment towards one that is led by solutions. And only smart phones are capable of providing better software solutions to consumers in the shape of varied applications.
How significant is the launch of the new Noir A2 for QMobile and what are some of the new features in the upgraded version recently launched?
It is extremely significant. You could say the Noir A2 is QMobiles commitment to the smart phone market. By launching the Noir A2 with upgraded features, we are taking the first step towards making smart phones available to all Pakistani consumers at an affordable price, so that everyone can use the latest mobile technology. The Noir A2 is equipped with a 1GHz processor with a 3.5-inch capacitive LCD touch screen. It is a Dual SIM smart phone with the Android OS (2.3 – Ginger Bread) operating system. The phone has two cameras, one on the front and one on the back, making it the only phone in this price segment capable of Skype video chat and the phone is, of course, WiFi capable.
Do you have other smart phones ready for launch in the market in the near future?
Yes, we have an extensive line up of Android phones ready in all major price segments. InshAllah, the next few months will see us launching more models in the Noir Android Smart Phone Series.
How do you see the impact of advertising in brand promotion?
As I have mentioned earlier, the Pakistani mobile phone market is rapidly growing – albeit in the lower-tier price segment. I believe there is still a room for further growth; as such, our marketing campaign aims to reach out to all Pakistani consumers across all segments of society, whether they are QWERTY phone users or smart phone lovers. I believe that our brand should constantly interact with our consumers through our marketing and communications campaigns – whether advertising or other – in order to inform them of new products and offerings, as well as the latest developments in mobile technology.
Is QMobile ready for 3G in Pakistan?
Currently, data services in most parts of Pakistan are GPRS-based, with EDGE available in major cities. However, neither of these comes close to matching the speed of 3G connections. I believe that 3G will change the way Pakistanis use and consume mobile data – the true potential of smart phones can only be unlocked with easy availability of 3G, as WiFi is limited by its restriction of range. InshAllah, we hope that 3G services will be launched in Pakistan within the year. I believe that the question of whether or not there is currently a developed market in Pakistan for 3G services is moot. If you provide the service, make it affordable, and also provide people with the smart phones and handheld devices to access 3G, the demand will create itself.
Anything you would like to add?
QMobile is committed to providing an amazing customer experience and my dream is to see QMobile become Pakistans most beloved handset brand in every major consumer segment.
Would you like to comment on Technology Times?
Technology Times has been supporting the technology sector by providing thought leadership and news on the most talked about issue of the industry. I believe and hope your team at Technology Times will continue to do that.