Notion Ink, the India based startup which created a lot of hype when it first broke cover four years ago (founded five years ago), launched its first device in 2010, the Notion Ink Adam. But then the waves of time changed their course and the company was greeted with a slew of issues and launching the Adam 2 back in 2013 didn’t help much either. But it’s back with the Cain series and is off to a start it would have wanted 4 years ago. We spent some time with the company’s founder, Rohan Shravan, and talked about everything related to the company.
Ritij: So how does it feel to be back in tablet arena with the Cain series? And how is support from Microsoft and Intel?
Rohan: We think, we have actually left the tablet arena. We, at Notion Ink, have always wanted to design devices which make people productive, and we sincerely feel that Android has moved out of the productivity space and are focusing more on their services, search and content consumption. We may not have been very visible in last few years in the public domain, but that’s only because we have been working with large enterprise clients for our product deployments. Cain 8 for us is a “value shock” product for the market where we are asking people to re-think what value they actually get on an Android tablet, now that Windows tablets are available at a similar price point.
Ritij: How are the sales going for both the devices?
Rohan: Currently we are ranked number 1 in the 2-in-1 segment in India, in terms of online sales. Our next target is to become number 1 in overall sales. Cain 8 too is doing very very well (we will soon be out of stock!).
Ritij: Notion Ink had come in with a lot of a bang and didn’t live up to the promises. The consumers as a result are still a bit sceptical about the company. So why should we trust the company this time around?
Rohan: The promise we are talking about here is that people thought we will replace Apple in the first year of our launch, and of course we didn’t do that. But as compared to Apple or any of the other competitors we have had much better revenues than what these companies did in their first few years. Give us time and we will surprise you! We have been written off many times, but we are an impossible ink to be removed. More than 650 customers who have bought the product have rated Cain 4.3 out of 5 , and that speaks volumes about the trust our existing customers already have. Unlike others we are also very aggressive on our warranty, anything happens to your device, we will first ship another one, test this device for 3-4 days, and then we will ask you if you are happy, if you say yes, then we will pick the older device. You can ask our competitors if they can trust customers as we are doing.
Ritij: Are we looking at devices in future which will be better differentiated than the competitors? For instance, the Croma 1177 has the same specifications as the Cain 10 at the same price.
Rohan: One can’t compare a product which is picked from China and sold here versus the product which is designed and developed with love in India. We know about relations between Audi and Volkswagen, lot of the components gets used across these cars, but you will never think Audi and relate with others. Unlike any other OEM in India, our device are not sealed packed in China and sold to customers directly. We assemble the devices back here in India, ensuring every minute detail is taken care of and customers are not in surprise.
Ritij: Why Windows as a choice of operating system?
Rohan: Since our beginning, we wanted to make devices which actually help us compute, create and help us get productive. Eden I, our first operating system was designed exactly for this purpose. Eden I had a multi-window system and multitasking way back in 2011 and even today we are no way close to that in Android. If I can’t use the Android machines, which I can use to write apps for Android or leave my laptop/desktop and depend on it completely, then we would be lying to the customers if we tell them that our devices will make them productive. Android is a great platform for content consumption, but that is not where we want to play. Android is also not free by the way. Windows, on the other hand, is very close to our vision of a productive OS.
Ritij: What is the market positioning that you are aiming for? How do you intend on breaking the clutter?
Rohan: We stand for real productivity and are designing premium affordables. Like I said earlier, we are currently No. 1 in the online 2-in-1 device space and we are determined to get to No. 1 slot in the overall market. For us, our indigenous product designs and warranty services makes us unique in our offerings.
Ritij: Any plans to expand your reach through offline retail and other e-commerce partners?
Rohan: Snapdeal has helped us scale up very fast and very effectively. We love our relationship with Snapdeal and don’t see moving to other platforms. We will however be opening up offline sales to help people feel and touch the device so we can scale up even better on Snapdeal too.
Ritij: Do you intend on going global with the Cain series and other future devices?
Rohan: We do, and we will make announcements on that soon.
Ritij: What is in store for us from Notion Ink in future? Are any other devices joining the Cain series in 2015?
Rohan: Notion Ink stands for innovation and product design. We will not be buying and selling, we are not traders. We are designing products in Cain Series currently, which redefines the concept of premium yet affordable tablets. Our other products are scheduled for 2016, and these are not phones, tablets, 2-in-1 or PCs, with Eve and future series we are going to introduce a new kind of computing devices, the next revolution, bigger than what Adam I brought.
Ritij: So, anything else you want to convey to your prospective buyers and our readers?
Rohan: “Our dream of Make in India will not be reached unless you start thinking about physical products and put software and services on the back burner. Physical product design requires a million different things to go hand-in-hand at the same time (including the software and services and they form just a part of whole product). Unless we start making these complex devices, as an Indian society we can’t even dream about beating the likes of say Germany in technology.”
The company has Cain10 and Cain8 on sale in the country for Rs 19,990 and Rs 9,990 respectively. Along the sidelines of our conversation, we were also told that a bluetooth keyboard for the Cain8 has also been launched on Snapdeal.com. Do drop in your questions or queries and we’ll get back with answers right away.