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Interview: Former Apple CEO and Obi Mobiles founder John Sculley

Annie Bricker | Oct. 8, 2014
Sculley talked about Obi's role in the smartphone market and the massive changes marketing has seen since his start in the 1970s.

Looking at your team, it seems that you have been leveraging your time at Apple by bringing over some of the top players from your time. Who has joined you on this project?
We have put together a fantastic design team in Silicon Valley. While other companies are developing phones in places like China, we are designing our product in Silicon Valley and then build them wherever the best technology is to build them, much as Apple does. In fact, the team we have are by and large former employees of Apple. We have the former head of product design, Robert Brunner from Ammunition, who just worked on Beats headphones. We have the former chief marketing officer at Apple Satjiv Chahil as well. We are bringing people together who know how to build beautifully designed products. We are also bringing together an amazing marketing team and you can already see their results. In India, our marketing campaign is already ranked up there with Coca-Cola. It has nothing to do with technology.

Our competitors are talking about their features, whereas we are talking about the aspirations for young people to express themselves. With our marketing campaigns, we speak in the language of our young consumers, we bring in edgy music and content. We are also leveraging social media by bringing in Brand Ambassadors on the Internet. What we know today, and why I call this a "Moonshot" is that there is a shift in marketing power from product producers to product owners. Customers no longer pay a lot of attention to big campaigns put on by companies. Instead they pay attention to other customers. They look at product ratings, reviews, links, referrals and messages from other users. We decided to harness that capability with Brand Ambassador all over the world. In that way we are building a truly global brand, but only for emerging markets.

Essentially, you are saying that marketing power is now in the hands of the consumers. With Obi's target audience made up of first time or young smartphone owners, how does this new face of marketing effect the Obi campaign?
The way that users treat their phones has changed entirely. We no longer talk on our phones, we send texts. Then, we no longer send texts, we send pictures. Finally, now, we don't even send pictures, we send videos. The phone is now a device by which we share our culture. You will see with this launch -- everything we do is about culture. It is about expressing yourself and being who you want to be. It's about breaking a few rules and telling our consumers that it is alright to make mistakes, stand out and be the black sheep of the group. It gives people permission to think about technology not as technology, but as a cultural extension of who you are.


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