Compaq is back. The iconic computer brand, which was once synonymous with compatibility and quality, has found a way to enter your household once again, this time in the form of smart televisions. Yes, Compaq-branded smart TVs are a thing now and even though the dynamics have changed since you last heard from the brand, the philosophy behind its new products in 2020 (and beyond) is still guided by the old-school ethos of compatibility and quality.
The Compaq-branded smart TVs are part of a strategic partnership between HP and Ossify Industries that allows the Delhi-based company to design, develop, and distribute them in India (and elsewhere). The announcement was first made in January and Ossify was well placed to launch the Compaq-branded smart TVs in India in April, but the plans were halted in the wake of coronavirus lockdown. Financial Express Online spoke to Anand Dubey, CEO, Compaq Television Business to understand Compaq’s big India comeback.
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Can you talk about the planning process behind the Compaq smart TVs?
Anand: The process started around four years back. We realized that smart televisions were essentially a modern-day avatar of what computers used to be (so it was only logical that Compaq would fit well in this category). We collaborated with HP for a licensing agreement under which we are the manufacturers and sellers of the product(s), and HP supports us in the development of the business. It took us a couple of years to create the infrastructure and product capability which would justify a brand of this magnitude.
Can you talk about the synergy with HP while developing your new “Compaq” products?
Anand: We understand televisions and HP understands the overall electronics market. So, there is a lot of collaboration that happens in terms of what to launch but essentially, the conceptualization and delivery of products (to the market) is done by Ossify. HP keeps an overview of what is happening, they keep an overview of the quality and what each product represents, what features we add. They have a core team which works with us daily, but the actual implementation and execution happens on our side.
Take us through your new products.
Anand: We are starting with two models (under the name of Hex 4K QLED TV range) and there are more coming in different form factors and sizes, and of course different price points.
The first and foremost thing we realized was that Compaq needs to deliver great products at an accessible price point. That has always been Compaq’s value proposition. We have ensured that with the products that we are launching, we are offering everything that a user would need and excluded everything else. For instance, 8K could be a great technology but if it is not commercially viable and not accessible for a lot of people, it does not make sense. If you look at other QLED models from other brands, we tend to be there in the affordable segment (in comparison). That is what we will keep doing for all the products that we launch in the market. Can you talk about the panels that you are using in these TVs?Anand: We are relying on different partners. We choose manufacturers on the merit of the size and the quality of the configuration that we use. Any specific reason why you gave Dolby Vision a miss in your TVs?Anand: Dolby Vision is an evolving technology which we think is not very practical right now to make sure our products remain in a (affordable) price range. Over a period of time, you will see such technologies being part of our lineup. Who is your target audience?Anand: We are targeting a very broad set of people who enjoy products on a daily basis, those who are using a television on a daily basis, and their usage is high in volume, because Compaq does appeal to a very wide segment of people. Our focus is to offer reliable products with the best technology and components that would last you a long time. How do you plan on sales and what is the strategy in terms of the whole sales process in India?Anand: The idea is to keep convenience of the customer and their choice or timing of their choice as an important element in our decision on when the televisions are available (for buying). The idea is to offer a continuous supply of the products, but supplies do get interrupted at times.
Let me give you some perspective on how our manufacturing is structured. We are essentially looking at not just India, but we are also looking at lot of other territories as a part of the overall scheme of things for Compaq televisions. So, what we have in vision is a broader multi-regional Compaq television business which means that the product capability that we have created in terms of ability to manufacture volumes, is not just limited to India but for multiple other territories as well.
By the end of this year, we will be present not just in India but few more territories and then the expansion continues to other areas (in future). Territories like?Anand: We are going to be present in the Middle East by the end of this year, and then we’re looking at South Asia and a few other countries for next year. So, these televisions will be made or assembled in India and exported to other markets?Anand: Absolutely. The reason we have launched these TVs first in India is because we have set up our manufacturing base in India which is going to be catering to other countries and that’s how the business is going to progress. So, when you talk about manufacturing, what percentage is actively made in India?Anand: All the products being manufactured under the Compaq brand name are 100% made in India. The manufacturing is happening in Greater Noida and in Tirupati. We are soon going to manufacture in Hyderabad as well. We are looking to ship half a million units in the next 12 months. What are the brands you are competing with?Anand: For us, in this initial period, the focus is entirely based on delivering customer happiness. Right now, there is no sense of competition. We want people to experience a great quality product which they can use for a longer period. Delivering peace mind and ease of use is what we are trying to focus on right now. Once we have established trust, volumes are going to take care of themselves on their own. How much of the Compaq brand name is going to help you drive sales?Anand: A lot of people have a negative connotation to usage of a brand name, but what people tend to forget at times is, when you are selling under a brand name, what you are selling is the value of the brand and when you do that, you need to ensure a certain amount of quality, you need to ensure a certain threshold in terms of the reliability of the products and what you are delivering. It is not just about us using the brand name, but us representing the brand in the right way. Can you talk about your after sales and support strategy?Anand: We have already established about 17,000 pin codes in which we are going to be servicing our customers in India, that is already done and available to customers of Compaq television right away. And we will keep building on that. Any plans to go offline?Anand: We are going to be offline and that announcement is going to come early next year. The plan was to be online and offline right from the start but looking at what is happening and how this entire ecosystem is progressing in terms of taking a backseat we have shelved the plan for this year.