The Android OEM space has just got a little more crowded. U.K. smartphone startup Kazam, which is rebadging Chinese-made smartphones with a logo and adding a few after-sales extras to try and pull in the punters, has unveiled its initial line-up of seven devices, six months after being founded by a pair of former U.K. HTC execs.
The Kazam Trooper & Kazam Thunder ranges will launch “over the coming days and weeks on a regional basis to coincide with consumer availability”. Europe is the initial target for Kazam, which announced its attention to attack the smartphone space back in June.
The more mainstream focused Trooper range runs to five phones (the X3.5, X4.0, X4.5, X5.0 and X5.5 – with the numbers corresponding to screen size), and includes after sales support for help setting up the phone or diagnosing problems, via a Kazam Rescue support service which includes remote device access.
The smaller Thunder range (just the Q4.5, and the forthcoming Q5.0) is apparently targeting more techie buyers – offering higher specs and (presumably) less of a focus on after sales hand-holding.
The 3G Q4.5 has a 1.3GHz quad-core chip, 1GB of RAM and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It has a 4.5 inch FWVGA display – albeit that comes out at a less than impressive 218ppi resolution. So it’s not exactly going to be competing with flagship Androids on screen quality. Expect it to undercut them on price, however.
On the question of how much Kazam will be flogging its rebadged Droids to consumers for, it said that’s TBC and will vary by market. But it will be ‘disruptive’, according to co-founder James Atkins. “Our pricing strategy is focused on delivering value to people in each local region. We are committed to disrupting the industry standard. Specific local pricing will be announced in line with consumer availability,” he said via email.
All Kazam devices include a year’s screen replacement – meaning that butterfingered buyers can claim for one new screen over that period. All phones also include support for dual-SIM, a removable battery and expandable memory (via MicroSD card slots).
Kazam being founded by ex-HTC employees has a fitting feel. HTC today confirmed it made a $102 million loss in its Q3. The company has focused on the high end of Android and hit a brick wall. The problem is Android has been commoditized, making it harder and harder to differentiate – unless you’re fighting on price, and that’s a race to bottom.
So rebadging budget Chinese-made droids and selling ‘em cheap is increasingly the order of the day for Android, even (apparently) in Europe. Kazam said it will be selling its phones through “a variety of local retailers, as well as online” – including launching its own webshop.
“Kazam has a network of regional offices in the following locations: U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Poland. From these locations we are able to serve all European countries, this is further helped by a partnership with [distributor] Ingram Micro Mobility,” Atkins added.
Kazam’s smartphones are running stock Android. Its differentiation here is price, plus some focus on support services – to attract more mainstream buyers and likely also help it bridge the retail sales gap if it’s mostly selling online.
“Our current range of smartphones will be on the Android operating system. Reflecting our straight thinking, Kazam has opted for native Android, there is no need for a skin, it is a wasted investment and frankly can make the experience worse,” he said.