Buying or upgrading an Android smartphone is not a cakewalk anymore. With every smartphone maker releasing new models with unbelievable specifications and price tags on a weekly basis, the consumer is today spoilt and confused at the same time for choices.
A new app, Smartly.me, developed by Bangalore based startup Mobiorbit Labs Pvt Ltd, has now come to the rescue of such bewildered customers. Its biggest USP is the personalised smartphone recommendations it gives based on the usage patterns of the apps installed in the existing phone.
"No other player in this place perhaps assists users from a persona point of view. The suggestions are based on the user's requirements rather than specifications," says Muralidhar Rajan, co-founder, Mobiorbit Labs.
Rajan was earlier engineering head at handset maker XOLO's (a Lava International Ltd subsidiary) R& D centre at Bangalore.
How it works Smartly's patented algorithm sorts users into 10 different personas after analysing their smartphone usage patterns. For instance, a smartphone user with more than 60 third party apps installed on the handset, of which a significant number are news apps, is slotted as a 'News Ninja' and 'Power User' by Smartly.me. Smartly users can also search and discover suitable smartphones according to their tech literacy levels using the 'Standard and 'Advanced' options. All this happens in less than a minute. This is then followed by a set of personalised smartphone recommendations, with relevant justification, and all the smartphones are assigned a Smartly score.
The app also gives personalised recommendations on suitable apps. To complete the purchase decision, Smartly.Me provides price drop alerts, nearby service centre information, upcoming launches, news and reviews, and chat with experts, besides the vital stats on each model.
"We aspire to become the one-stop shop for everything that has to do with the purchase of an Android smartphone," says Rajan.
Personalisation, the USP Recommendations come with a dash of social networking, where the app facilitates discovery of phones owned by friends and family and their usage related feedback.
Rajan says a forum connecting potential buyers with actual users and owners of specific models will be introduced. The company has filed a patent for the connecting mechanism of this ecosystem.
Money matters Smartly generates revenue via the affiliate marketing model, facilitating purchases from online marketplaces including Flipkart. It plans to adopt the same model for offline retailers and generate more revenue by offering personalised promotion content to users on behalf of the brand and app developers.
"The same product will be shown to each user in a different light. Likewise, there is a sea of apps for every purpose and recommending the right one for a user is a challenge. But the potential is immense," says Rajan.
Smartly will soon form an in-house technical team that will offer its own reviews and content related to smartphones. Currently, the app aggregates most of its content.
The app which went live on October 15 has witnessed about 2500 downloads. The app will remain free for users.
Market and competitors Smartly will compete with the likes of gadget research portal 91mobiles and Smartprix, a price comparison site for consumer electronics and books, in this space.
"The space in which the entrepreneurs are venturing into is a little crowded, hence constant innovation is a key for the constant growth," says Vikram Upadhyaya, chief mentor and accelerator evangelist at GHV Accelerator. "Context based content personalisation and addressing it through 100 per cent tech play will be a game changer in a developing country like India which has the second largest base of mobile users."
India is currently the third largest market for smartphones only behind China and the US and is expected to surpass the US by 2017. According to International Data Corporation, 26.5 million smartphones were shipped to India in the second quarter of 2015, up 44% from 18.4 million units for the same period last year.
Angel investor Mohit Rampal believes that the go-to market in this model should be well-defined.
"While the model definitely addresses the gap in choosing the right phone, the end user base should be expanded to mobile companies as you are collecting a lot of data which can be used for creating new apps, new phone features, context based advertising by operators and even service providers," said Rampal.
Founding team Besides Rajan, the founding team of Smartly includes Palash Patil and Santosh Prabhu. Patil was earlier the product head of the performance series vertical while Prabhu was the product head of the value series vertical at Lava. At Lava, they repeatedly came across customers who were finding it difficult to choose the right smartphone among the many models out there. That, as they say, was the trigger for starting Smartly.me.
Currently bootstrapped, Smartly is in talks with investors to raise its first round of institutional funding.