Products teXet known to many Russian users. Phones DECT, «babushkofona" avtonavigatory, e-books, and now tablets and smartphones are gaining recognition of consumers across the country and beyond. As a company of St. Petersburg makes its way to the Russian market, why frames are a major advantage over foreign competitors and how to work with Asian partners? Secrets of success and problems of domestic Hi-Tech companies shared with us CEO "Electronic Systems" Alkotel "(brand teXet) Alexander Korol'kov.
Alexander, as a prelude to tell us briefly about the current state of your business.
— As the Russian and having its headquarters in St. Petersburg, the company "Electronic Systems" Alkotel "in fact has long been international — have offices in Southeast Asia and Europe. Besides its own subdivisions, for us now employs 35 contract factories, the number of which is growing as we constantly introduces new products. We estimate that these plants are more than 20 thousand people. Previously we had and own powerful assembly plant directly in St. Petersburg, which employed up to 400 people.
How many employees in the company today, what do they do?
— Own employees have 110, most of which are located in Saint Petersburg. We are now actively recruiting staff — programmers, developers, product lines. In addition, this year we opened a representative office in Moscow. After the closure of the production of our own business idea today is virtually no different from the American model, nurtured in Silicon Valley, where the development of products made there, and the production — in Southeast Asia, where it is easier and cheaper.
What are the main product areas of your company?
— The main focus of production in 2004, at the time of birth of the brand teXet, had DECT phones and landline phones — until now, this segment accounts for 10% of our sales — the next destination were MP3-players. Then we started the development of navigators, photo frames and e-books, then followed by tablets and smartphones, and finally appeared DVRs. It is worth noting that the release last we prepared very carefully, maybe that's why we lost the necessary time to enter the Russian market. But it is interesting that even in the case when we go after the others, we are still making up for lost time due to the company's potential, a careful and thorough approach to business organization, our presence in the federal network of retail and etc. Our policy is we do not want to dump prices and import "gray" device for increasing the market share. On the contrary, we want to work honestly and correctly, of scale, scope, "forcing" our suppliers, etc. Again, we always work directly with factories and with all state and federal commercial structures. Many learned about you when you released navigators. Tell me, why did this happen?
— When the FSB authorized the use of GPS-navigation for everyone in the Russian market there was only Garmin. Going into this market, we have studied their products much better than the competition (deep work on the "iron" and software). I can only say that it is we who are the first who has developed and brought to market a CPU SiRF Atlas-IV, the same situation is repeated with AtlasV. Today we can say that it is we who popularized the GPS-solutions for the service to inform about traffic jams in the city in partnership with City Guide, as we were the first to let navigator with video recording feature.
What are your main areas of business today?
— We are passionate about the direction of the tablet and smartphones. Our segment of e-books has been developing steadily, with both E-Ink, and TFT-displays, and on the basis of OS Android. In this case, I believe that a person must have two devices: "reader" at the screen with E-Ink and a full tablet computer. There's one more thing that is related to the fact that modern tablet computers and e-book format is very similar one. They can be done on the basis of the same processor, so these decisions at the company "Alkotel" as many as five. We are working carefully in all directions, and time will tell which one is better — if we worked a processor, made changes to the architecture, it is easy to focus, respectively, we see the dignity of an option, we are trying to develop its the basis of all available solutions.
What sells best and why?
— First place in the structure of our sales take e-books with TFT-LCD. "Reader" based on electronic ink technology they are inferior, but because they are really expensive. While the gap between the TFT-books and E-ink significant — up to 80% of the latter is precisely the cost of the display. I always try to make the product as accessible to the public — this applies equally to both "babushkofona" and to the E-link-books. For example, when we went to the market "babushkofonov," there was a company Just5, which positioned similar devices almost by 4 thousand rubles and more. Well, what the average grandmother would buy the phone for the money? So last year we set the goal to make the phone worth about a thousand, and within a year — less than a thousand rubles. And we have done so.
By the way, is now developing this line of business — "babushkofona?"
— "Babushkofona" really showed a good side and in terms of sales and in terms of popularity among the population. It is a quiet, calm backwater — no explosions here will not have the relevant consumers of this product. Of course, we try to make interesting phones of this class are available not just for grandmothers, but for all audiences — students, etc. After all, it's a phone with big numbers, letters, press in general, and speakerphone. A world leader in this segment is the company Emporia, she became the progenitor of this format. In addition, Europe has a leading position Doro, there are still a number of manufacturers and brands. And when I started, "babushkofona," I said to myself, "We'll Russian Doro, Russian Emporio». Today we have cheap phones with two, three and even four SIM-cards. In any case, we do all the decisions that may be called. After all, the new Chinese MediaTek processors support up to four SIM-cards — they are in the phone may be two, three, four. The final cost of the device is not affected — an extra slot for SIM-card is worth less than $ 1. We are bringing to market a complete line — from the most inexpensive budget model to the "clamshell" and slider.
I would like to clarify about the production of smart phones and tablets — a new direction, complex markets, narrow niche, international players. How did you decide to leave on such a difficult market, and what is your strategy in the development of this trend today?
— We have already proved their history, that we can compete with the strongest global brands and cordless DECT confirmation of this — by the time we get out of here already worked Siemens, Panasonic, Philips and General Electric. Of course, players were less than in the cellular market, but the market itself has been already. It's one thing when the market DECT-phones is 3 — 4 million units per year, and another thing — 40000000 Cell "tubes". So of course we had to begin before — doing this business for over 20 years, the subject itself from the inside, a
ll the material part, we know very well. After all, we work at the level of the processor, memory, circuitry and software. If need be, we can work on the wrapper — we know how to design and create products of metal and plastic. Moreover, we are currently planning to organize his own art studio teXet to deal with their own design (appearance, industrial and electronic design).
And where do you take pictures? After all, the Russian industrial design itself almost none.
— So you need to pick it up, for this purpose, there are many possibilities! First, they can do, and in terms of outsourcing, attract foreign talent. In addition, the creative potential in St. Petersburg is very good — we have the Mukhina Academy and other schools. There are good schools of industrial design in Hong Kong, Europe, can be trained in London, Paris and Italy. It would wish. Is there potential in St. Petersburg, there are people who can do it here? I'm sure there are. It is important that we as a company that feels its market, knows his needs and mentality of the population, made the demanded product.
But how do you position your new tablets and smart phones in such a competitive niches in the present?
— We try to offer maximum functionality, good design, good quality for the best price. In general, good products, as a rule, is not enough.
What is your product different from the tablet Samsung and Apple?
— Big brands make products mainly for high-end processors, such as Samsung, Nvidia Tegra. We also know that the manufacturer and try to work with him, but he's insanely high prices. Perhaps there is some artificial limitation: small companies offered such a price, so as not to interfere with the largest, which Nvidia is already working. Nevertheless, today we offer this solution in 2 — 2.5 times more than we use chipsets from just over the worst performance video processing. As for the tablet, then we make them as functional and productive. Now all of them are equipped with processors with a clock speed of 1 GHz or faster, with good graphics capabilities. For example, our first truly powerful and advanced tablet teXet
And on the smartphone you have just as good a story as the tablet teXet TM-7025?
— In March 2012, we launched the model
In this case, three days after publication in the hi-tech.mail.ru that article was viewed more than a half million times. That is, people are interested in, and the first batch of smartphones TM-5200 a "shattered". Another of the interesting niche products mentioned shockproof and waterproof smartphone
In connection with this question: How would you assess the position of Russian technology companies in comparison with Western and Asian representatives of the high-tech market?
— My answer to this example. As for the competence and intelligence, I think we have to be good and continue to improve. As I said, we are now growing strongly in terms of staffing engineering staff, we recruit technicians, engineers, and programmers. At the same time I am aware of the degradation of today's education system, as many can not praise the Soviet system. However, we still have people who are considering in which not degraded to zero. Of course there are disadvantages associated with the experiments, CSE, commercialization of institutions, etc. The other thing is that such a large number of engineers and developers, as it was before, not anymore — because when 80 — 90% of Leningrad enterprises working for the defense, there were requirements engineering personnel are quite different. Now there was a redistribution of resources in the world — and in this system we supply natural resources. But in Russia there is a bright head and have someone to work with. That footage is our key advantage over foreign competitors, they can fairly compete by developing all here, producing there.
As you said, you work closely with Asian companies. What specifics of working with them would you point out?
— In general, the experience of working with the same Chinese-positive, they are willing to work all the daylight hours. The Chinese are working and at work, and at home, they are responsible managers. But, by the way, sometimes even begin to deal with an arrogant attitude of some of them. However, in commercial relationships, we are about the same: there is a cunning and clever merchants, we also have a cunning and clever. And all have the same aspirations.
What can we beat? We want to use what we're strong, and that is inaccessible to others — our technological expertise and our financial strength. Another thing is that when dealing with the Chinese, there is always the danger of copying your designs. As I said, we always strive to bring to market something first, but, as a rule, superiority lasts no more than 2 — 3 months. As our Chinese partners are beginning to sell like a new product to the right and left, telling us: "It's not us, it's traders." Plead with them as useless — there are all protected by the state. Today, no one doubts that they are buying a consignment of goods in order to copy it. Although they already have the normal scientific and technical potential, the base in order to do the job themselves. In Russia, however, is now impossible. Once upon a time in the Soviet Union was developed industry of all things necessary for their own production in a closed ecosystem. The desire to integrate into the global community — is, of course, great, but the Chinese are integrated, and at the same time closed. In addition to global exports, and they have a massive domestic market, which in the case of the global crisis, they can easily redirect the sale. And this is a quarter of the world's population! And there is effective demand, it stimulated. In short, the wise policy of the party and the government.
How you do things with sales in the regions and abroad?
— Regions showing growth. Moscow and St. Petersburg is oversaturated. The geography of our presence — all Russia and the CIS countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan). Regions very well perceive our products, another thing that is often due to errors of our forecasts, we simply underestimate the demand there. Therefore, we will only increase the impact in the regions, expanding the product line.
How do you see the prospects of the market, what products are planning to print?
— Of course, new directions will appear. For example, we are in the process of launching accessories — it naturally follows the direction of activity of our company. We will be making universal accessories under the brand teXet, which will be used, including our competitors. As for the new products to existing lines, then I see the prospect of tablet computers with a diagonal of 7 ", 8" and 10 "and a powerful dual-core and quad-core processors. Maybe they will be based on the nVidia Tegra2, but we have other good alternatives. In general, the tablet is the direction we will strengthen the commitment, as expected, at least, twice the growth of this market. Overall teXet not remain aloof from any new and interesting products, and once the market will offer something interesting, we immediately took up this theme. Here we must understand that we are asking the trend, and large companies. For example, Apple has opened the era of tablet computers, offering a high-end device market segment — we are in this trend are trying to take their share, releasing low-cost products available.
Be so kind as to tell us your opinion on the strategic plans.
— With regard to market share, we have to be on all products in the top three. We have a good ambition to be a leader, to be number one in portable electronics combine all directions. There's a great figure — 30 billion rubles. And we plan to reach a sales volume in 2017.