Apple ex-chief John Sculley's Obi Mobiles to invest in India

Obi Mobiles, a mobile device company backed by former Apple CEO John Sculley, is set to launch operations in India, in a bid to get a piece of the growing market for mobile devices in the country.

In an announcement on Thursday, Obi Mobiles declared its intention to invest $20 million in India in the first year of its operations, towards development of supply chains, design outlets, and sales centres across the country.

Headquartered in Gurgaon, the company would partner with global IT supply firm Inflexionpoint to assist with its expansion in India.

''The Indian economy is seeing a radical shift since the last decade; the emergence of the knowledge economy has created a large services sector,'' said Sculley, who co-founded the company, in a statement. ''I see a huge opportunity in fulfilling the requirements of growing and prospering middle class.''

Sculley added that India led the world in ''mobile phone penetration,'' but the lack of 3G implementation had left a large share of the smartphone marketplace untapped. Currently smartphones accounted for about 20 per cent of the mobile phone market in India. He further added that the current situation in India was ''a favourable and attractive change for us to launch Obi Mobiles and offer the best of the smartphone with an apt pricing model.''

The business in India would be led by former Micromax and HTC top exec Ajay Sharma.

The company would launch a series of smartphones, with the first device expected in April. The price is expected to range between Rs5,000 and Rs15,000.

India had seen tremendous growth in the smartphone segment. According to IDC's year-ending numbers, shipments skyrocketed from 16.2 million in 2012 to 44 million last years, with the growth expected to continue as smartphones became less expensive and mobile internet infrastructure improved, but how much of a role the new brands would play in the growth was yet to be determined.

According to commentators, Sculley's Apple history would no doubt help the company, but much would depend on whether the brand was banking on more than just the price and specs to take it through (See: Ousting Jobs a 'mistake': Former Apple chief John Scully).