“Our brand name and slogan are very closely knit to our existence”
Black Shark may sound interesting and intriguing to you but will not be the case anymore after reading this insightful conversation of David Li, Vice President (Global) Black Shark with My Mobile’s Haider Ali Khan. One of the many deep insights is that Black Shark is an independent company and not owned by Xiaomi as most of us knew till date and has been created by passionate gamers for gamers. Excerpts:
What is Black Shark?
Black Shark was born out of the passion for gaming. It is a brand that is built for a generation that is born to compete. Established in 2017 by Peter Wu (Founder) and Harrison Luo (Co-Founder), Black Shark was founded on the premise of delivering cutting-edge technology for an unparalleled gaming experience on a mobile device and as a lifestyle brand unique to an exceptional community.
Our brand name and our brand slogans are very closely knit to our existence. As you might know, some Sharks must swim constantly in order to keep breathing or they die, similarly, as a gaming brand, our DNA dictates us to innovate constantly and build products that elevate the gaming experience for our fans. With market presence in over 29 countries to date and backed by a world-class R&D team, “Born to Compete” isn’t just a slogan for us; it’s a statement of intent.
Being only a game-centric smartphone company would be able to survive in a price-driven market like India?
We believe being a gaming centric player is our strength. From the outset, we have never put ourselves to be runners in the traditional premium smartphone market. Black Shark is a gaming technology company, we don’t think from a smartphone provider’s angle, but a gamer’s angle. If you follow the segment closely, very few brands have the kind of focused approach that we bring to the market. We are here to create and expand a section for ourselves with “gaming” and the unique opportunities it presents at the forefront of every product we make.
As a young start-up, Black Shark prides itself with being in touch with the pulse of the gamers in developing gaming-specific technology and features in products that are unique to the market like the Black Shark 2. The product strength proves our ambition.
Besides, there seems to be a common misconception in the market that gaming smartphones do only one thing well. We digress. As the best portable gaming station, Black Shark provides the variant gaming accessories such as the gamepads for transformation to a console mode or the host mode, which defines world class-leading, gameplay experience on a handheld device, unlike any traditional smartphone on the market.
We want to view India, not as a price-conscious market but more of a value-focused one. We are firm of the opinion that ample availability of choices is good for the consumer and we find that fans in India are some of the most knowledgeable globally – they do their research and know exactly which device is best suited to them.
We have invested substantially on our research and development centre, which has been instrumental in churning out some fantastic products over the course of the year. All of our products are home-grown, which means that there will always be a premium attached to our products. If we build a competent device that delivers on the critical metrics of mobility and a unique gameplay experience that fulfils the need of the market consistently, we are on the right track.
Black Shark caters to a niche market, we believe our products are priced competitively, and as the adage goes, you get what you pay for and what you get is a unique product that looks to change one’s perception of how gaming needs to be played and enjoyed on a mobile device.
|“Black Shark caters to a niche market, we believe our products are priced competitively, and as the adage goes, you get what you pay for and what you get is a unique product that looks to change one’s perception of how gaming needs to be played and enjoyed on a mobile device”|
What advantages do you see when Xiaomi has almost discontinued brand POCO?
We can’t comment on that. However, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify an important point regarding the ownership of Black Shark. Black Shark is an independent company.
The company has been created by passionate gamers for gamers, this is our history and our DNA and this is why we are unique in our market. As an independent company, Black Shark has its own certificate and registration number, recognized under Chinese Law and Hong Kong law which states that it is indeed an independent company. As a stand-alone company, Black Shark has since the beginning implemented its own production line with independent marketing, sales and R&D activities. Ever since the creation of Black Shark, we have been proud of conceiving, building and launching cutting edge devices that aim at providing the best experience ever for the global gaming community. We are proud of what we have accomplished and value our origins. As you can see, at the back of our products, it is written “powered by Black Shark” and not powered by Xiaomi as for instance it’s the case for Huawei/Honor (the Honor smartphones show a “powered by Huawei” mark). Of course, like many other companies we have investors.
Now each smartphone makers dedicate a portion of their presentation on gaming. Is this genre going to drive the future of mobile phones in days to come?
All verified industry data point towards mobile gaming and Esports seeing a significant uptake in the region and India is no different. As per latest report by KPMG and IFSG , mobile phones are the most preferred device amongst online gamers owing to the flexibility they offer in terms of the potential ‘anytime, anywhere’ usage. This explains why most smartphone brands have a dedicated portion on gaming in their product presentations. However, to claim a good gaming experience is one thing, to deliver on a differentiated experience that genuinely resonates with gamers is another. Gaming as an industry outweighs over others because of its sheer scale, size and variety in the kind of products you can procure and experience for entertainment. Every consumer has a unique touch point when getting introduced to gaming and we want to be at the top of the mind-set for users looking for the best-in-class portable gaming device.
How has been the response of Black Shark 2 in India? Have you been able to overcome competitions such as ASUS ROG phone and Nubia Red Magic 3?
While the gaming-specific smartphone market is still in its infancy, we are definitely creating the right environment for us as a brand to thrive and create a niche for gamers by introducing products they truly love to use on daily basis. So yes, the appetite will continue to grow with the advent of a younger gamer demography and newer innovations that promise to change the future of mobility.
In the India market, our products have received a very positive response from early buyers, and the Black Shark 2 was the highest-rated gaming smartphone on the Flipkart platform in the first month of its launch with a rating of 4.7/5. This bodes well for our brand growth and is a ringing endorsement in the way we have approached this space
How crucial a platform like PUBG MOBILE has been to give an opportunity to a company like Black Shark to emerge out of blue moon?
Games like PUBG have definitely brought mobile gaming to mainstream in India. However, the Indian gaming scenario is much wider than that. In-fact plethora of reasons like lowest data cost in the world, availability of more affordable mobile handsets has actually propelled the growth for mobile gaming in India.
|“Games like PUBG have definitely brought mobile gaming to mainstream in India. However, the Indian gaming scenario is much wider than that. In-fact plethora of reasons like lowest data cost in the world, availability of more affordable mobile handsets has actually propelled the growth for mobile gaming in India”|
How does your road map look like in 2019 as this gaming category is quite niche in India?
In 2019 we want to launch more products that are based on the feedback that we receive from our gaming communities in India. As I mentioned earlier, we will keep a sharp focus on gaming and continue to surprise our buyers by offering better, faster and more valuable products that promise the best gaming experience.
Could you comment on the speculations related to Black Shark 2 Pro for India?
We have elaborate but extremely competitive plans for India. We will keep you informed about what will come to India next.
What do you expect out of Indians for Black Shark? Are you open towards having a brand ambassador, sporting events participation to make it more visible and acceptable?
In the short term, expect the slow pace of adoption but high levels of interest as brands like Black Shark connect with gamers to build an active community from a grassroots level. We also see blossoming of a vibrant game developer community in creating content that appeals locally. We see different game models and in-game subscription and purchase mechanics to take the stage in the days ahead. Moreover, expect the hardware chops, especially when it comes to graphical capabilities of gaming smartphones to catch-up with the rest of the industry.
For the long haul, the evolution we foresee is the creation of a big, active ecosystem with the convergence of hardware, software and services in creating a gaming platform for the new-age portrayed through a transformable device. We also see the promise of innovations like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality deliver on the promise of a new gaming concept in mobile gaming – one filled with excitement and immersive experience unlike any other.