Published on October 2nd, 2014 | by Varuna Singh


Obi Mobiles UAE launch Report

In an already crowded smartphone market a new manufacturer enters in the region and specifically the UAE. We earlier reported that obi mobiles had plans to enter in the region.  Obi Logo

This week marked the regional debut for Obi mobiles in the UAE with an event held with press and partners. Jumbo electronics and Obi mobiles will together distribute and handle the new smartphone manufacturer.

John Sculley, ex CEO Apple

Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (20)

Obi which is a venture of New Tech Ventures is led by former Apple CEO and Entrepreneur John Sculley. If you do not know who John Sculley, he has been involved with in the computing industry right from the beginning when he was recruited by Steve Jobs from Pepsi-Co in the late 1970s and later become the CEO of Apple in 1983. Even though Sculley and Jobs have had a break-up, the fact is that because of John Sculley’s efforts, Apple’s revenues had increased 1000% at Apple.

So, should you be excited? In short, yes.

John’s presence in Dubai was a great for Obi mobile and the region itself. We got a chance to speak with him and ask him a few questions. Check out our interview with him here.


Obi – The brand

Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (42)

We rarely get to see co-founders set step on stage and even rarely are the co founders pioneers in personal computing. The team at Obi mobiles gave a very satisfactory outline of their brand. Obi mobile aims to target and focus on the younger generation which according to Obi is the best set of early adopters.

“We believe the young make their phones part of their lifestyle”

Technically speaking, the phones themselves are very cost-effective but the branding is not. Obi has had a decent amount of success as it debut in India earlier this year. Their message and advertising has been a mix of “independent” and “liberal” thinking with the Indian market.

Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (46)

Obi mobile clearly knows that the market is saturated and therefore the marketing is done by the same people who manage Coca-Cola accounts in India. We got a presentation from the head of marketing and in charge for Obi mobiles and the feeling and message was done right.

Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (52)

“Obi’s marketting strategies and attention to details is very much like Apples but in the right context”

The right context and country matters in marketing a product and Obi mobiles has been involved in some very interesting trends from making Obi memes to GIFs online and both offline.

Their packaging was liked by many of us in the audience and it’s the attention of details that we see here that is not present in other cost-effective smartphone manufacturers.

“The word mobile has obi”

We asked Sculley what the name “obi” meant and why choose it if you are very brand conscious. Sculley responded by stating that any brand has to sound right and be positively represented in different markets and languages. The initial idea of “Obi” is from “Mobile”. Obi is mobile and with a youthful approach to the brand, it helps them to create some interesting permutations and combinations of their logos. Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (47) Obi’s vision is promising. It delivers a high end retail, product and service experience for a very cost effective device. It tried to be as organic to your choices by letting the consumer decide on what Obi is and what they make of it. Obi is relying on its many customers to be brand ambassadors for Obi. We aren’t clear how they plan to execute this model in the region, but Obi doesn’t just plan to sell phones in the UAE.

Centrally located


Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (49) Being kicked off in a developing country, Obi mobiles has probably learnt the developing market to an extent. It makes sense for Obi to kick off its expansion from the UAE. The UAE is regionally located near to many devleoping countries of majority of Asia and Africa. We think Obi has a lot more plans in making the UAE a base for all its operations going forward.

Partnering right


Obi has partnered with Jumbo to be the official distributors. Jumbo distributors can then tap into the local shops around the Middle-East.

“Steve Jobs was a moonshot moment. Another moon-shot has occurred”

With Sculley’s new book Moonshine and Obi mobiles creating not only a presence but a base in the UAE, only time will tell the board and the teams involved can make Obi a multi-billion dollar company.

“Targeting the youth of the developing world can be a very narrow market to deal with”

Especially when you want 5% of the UAE market, the youth might be the best set of early adopters but marketing to them might be the trickiest. Obi definitely has an appealing ad campaign that worked well in India but it would need re work to work in the Middle-East and other countries around here.   Obi has a good price proposition but some of these devices are more cheap than value. We will have to get our hands on one of them to actually compare the performances. Don’t get us wrong, we think the MediaTek processors in the new wave of cost-effective products actually perform really well.    

The phones


All that said above, the phones should speak from them selves. You can have a brilliant marketing strategy but at the end of the day your consumer is going to decide on cheap vs value.

1. Octopus S520

The Octopus is a 5″ flagship from obi mobiles. It features a 720p screen IPS , an 8 core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.7 Ghz running 4.4 Android KitKat, The specs are not bad at all. We are looking at other manufacturer’s midrange device category like the Xperia M2 Aqua and the new mid range HTC phones. Obi mobile’s flagship is also very cost-effective at only AED 799 for an 8.4mm thick phone with a 5″ screen and an 8 MP camera. The Octopus is not a 4G LTE phone but takes in 2 3G enabled SIM Card slots.

© 2013 dubs- sushmendra dubey, All Rights Reserved.k

Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (86) This phone actually felt one of the best in our hands. The screen is just responsive with its colors thanks to the IPS display. The display is very workable as 720p as well. Below are some more pictures.

Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (66) Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (65) Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (64)

2. Obi Wolverine

The Wolverine does not look like a phone that costs less than AED400. In fact its one of the most cost effective phones in its category. The Wolverine has an awful leather back much spoilt by Samsung’s trial. The leather back had sharp edges and was in no way a good holding experience. The 5” smartphone offers the efficiency of Android KitKat 4.4, powered by a 1.2GHz Dual Core Processor, with 1GB RAM and 4GB expandable memory. With a 5MP flash-enabled camera, and front VGA camera, the dual SIM (3G +3G) device offers great value at AED399.
Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (73) Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (84) Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (85)

3. Obi Falcon

Obi mobile calls this the “selfie master” and while you may think its swirling camera is an innovation, there have been plenty of players that have done the same recently. The Falcon is a very decent speced device for the cash. There is a 5” smartphone, with an IPS qHD Screen, features an 8MP auto focus camera that rotates 206 degrees, and also offers dual flash for perfect imaging even in low light conditions. The Falcon S451 runs on a 1.3 GHz Dual Core Processor, with 4GB ROM and 1GB RAM, and is powered by a decent 2200 mAH Lithium battery. It retails for AED599.
Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (78) Below is how the swirling camera can be put into action.
Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (76) Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (75) Obi UAE Launch John Sculley Jumbo Dubai (74)

So, what do you think about Obi? Do let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

I work with technology in Education. I also write stuff. I love design and people. @varunasingh

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