Kazam CMO and former HTC exec James Atkins plans to make phones to suit the unique demands of different European nations
British-based smartphone manufacturer Kazam has been using Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona to not only unveil its first octa-core smartphones, the Tornado 5.0 and 5.5, but also to spread the world about its plans to cater for the European market.
James Atkins and Michael Coombes, who previously ran marketing and sales at HTC UK, formed Kazam last year and have since released a number of mobile phones catering for the high end, mid-range, entry level and feature phone markets.
The new Tornado handsets are powered by 1.7GHz octo-core processors, 2GB of RAM and are powered by Android 4.2.2, but neither of them have support for LTE networks, whereas the Thunder 4.5 announced last week does have 4G connectivity.
No one size to fit all
“We are looking to bring more LTE devices into the range, but with LTE, it’s a question of availability of chipsets,” Atkins tells TechWeekEurope, adding that Kazam would be working with suppliers to bring LTE to more handsets in its various ranges.
Most of its smartphones use MediaTek chipsets, but the Thunder 4.5 uses a Qualcomm processor because of the LTE requirement. Atkins says this flexibility with suppliers is an advantage as it can pick and choose the best components to create a diverse family of phones.
Kazam has released a lot of phones in the last few months, and Atkins admits that having so many devices available at one time might be confusing, but says it needs to have a big range because it wants to create phones to suit the unique preferences of each European country rather than force a one size fits all product to the entire world like its rivals do.
“The world is made up of lots of different places and you can see the way that we communicate to consumers in the UK is very different to how we communicate to Poland or Germany,” he explains. “For us, it was about setting up a company that is specifically designed to serve the European market and all its different nuances.”
He says customers in northern Europe care most about performance, but those in eastern Europe are more cost conscious and those in the south prefer a good design. Having many models helps it cater to these markets, but he concedes this might change in the future.
“As we move forward, and mature as a brand, I think our range will probably consolidate a little bit.”
It’s this approach, along with the quality of its smartphones, that Kazam thinks will help it differentiate itself from the plethora of smartphone manufacturers showcasing their wares at MWC, especially the number of Chinese phone makers looking to expand into Europe.
We’re not an Android house
“We are not an Android house,” he declares. “We choose Android because that’s what the market is responding to, we’re not anti-Windows or anti-Firefox OS.”
He has questions about Firefox OS’ suitability for the European market, but says it would be an option if it ever expanded to Latin America, and says Windows Phone would require it to convince users about the credentials of the operating system as well as the hardware.
Innovation and HTC
Kazam also hopes to differentiate itself by focusing on areas often ignored by other companies. It offers a free screen replacement service – “How many people do you see walking around with a cracked screen because it’s too expensive to replace?” Atkins asks – and is also looking at other areas such as logistics and packaging.
However Atkins is less convinced his and Coombes’ previous roles at HTC will have much of an impact. Many of the headlines surrounding Kazam’s launch focused on this detail, but he says he never once spoke to anyone in a factory while at HTC, whereas now he does all the time.
He’s keen to stress that Kazam has a much different atmosphere, with many of his team arriving from the likes of BlackBerry and Samsung as well as HTC. However, he does admit it helped Kazam make the news.
“It was good coverage as far as I was concerned.”