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John Sculley set to take on Apple in India with budget smartmobes

Cunning plan assumes mobes pricier than Nokia's X-Series will find eager buyers

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John Sculley, the former Apple CEO best known as the man who fired Steve Jobs, is making a move in the Indian smartphone market with a new venture which will sell Rs.12,000 ($US197) handsets to the masses.

Inflexionpoint, the global “IT supply chain company” he founded, owns China-based distributor Dragon Technology, which will produce the smartmobes in the Middle Kingdom and import them into the sub-continent, according to Economic Times.

Although a brand name has yet to be decided, the firm is thinking big with the hire of former Micromax head of smartphones and HTC India bod, Ajay Sharma.

“Both of us were exploring opportunities and [Sculley] thought that India is a good market for smartphones," Sharma told the paper. "The name of the brand will be decided next week and the first of the Android smartphones will be launched by mid-April.”

If the reported pricing is correct, the venture is on shaky ground: Mozilla recently revealed a $US25 smartphone and The Reg has beheld low-end Androids for $US30 in other Asian nations. And of course Nokia recently revealed its X-Series phones, all of which undercut the reported price of Sculley's venture.

Cheaper smartphones are is a growing space in India, especially as China’s once rampant smartphone market growth slows.

The Indian smartmobe market as a whole grew almost three times over 2013 to reach 44 million units by the year's end, according to IDC stats.

However, after market leader Samsung, which took 38 per cent of shipments in Q4 2013, the space was dominated by local players Micromax (16 per cent), Karbonn (10 per cent), and Lava (4.7 per cent). Sony managed to edge out the latter in fourth spot with five per cent.

Time will tell whether Sculley can get one over on his old firm, although Apple is also doing its best to improve market share in India.

Reports last month claimed that Cupertino had restarted production of the old iPhone 4, beginning at a more affordable – than the 5C, at least – price point of Rs.20,000 ($327).

In addition, it emerged that the firm is introducing buyback and cashback schemes for the 8GB iPhone 4 which could lower the price even further to around Rs.15,000 (less than $250).

Sculley's 10-year reign at Apple was nothing if not eventful. After being hired by Jobs from Pepsi in 1983, he ousted the Apple co-founder in a boardroom coup a few years later.

Despite being reportedly the highest paid CEO in Silicon Valley, Sculley was criticised by many for strategic blunders that ultimately led to his own demise in 1994.

All at Inflexionpoint will be hoping he's learned from these mistakes and can shake off a reputation as one of the worst CEOs of all time. ®

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