The WileyFox foray into the smartphone manufacturing industry
If you are struggling with poor credit, the last thing you want is an expensive phone or contract, one that will have you struggling even further to pay, further endangering your credit score. This is why the entry of WileyFox into the market was such a welcome, refreshing move. While every other phone company was hell bent on improving and offering even more high end products and specifications to their customer, this UK company went the opposite direction, looking to cater for the lower tier customer with quality that was just as high as the typical average phone.
The very best innovators are those that think outside the box, individuals that go against the normal grain of things to think up new products and markets that not many people thought possible. This is the very definition of disruption, and it is what WileyFox tried to do. Seeing that there was a gap with the lower end of the market, the company specialized in giving the very best to the customer at prices that were way below 200 pounds. In fact, one of their flagship phones retailed at approximately 120 pounds. Having worked for several years at Motorola, the company founder took with him some of his expertise and started a bold journey, entering a traditionally competitive market and trying to challenge the huge incumbents by catering to the smaller customer.
Initial WileyFox products ran on an android based open source operating system called the cyanogen. It is an outlier, but most of its phones are good enough to rival other offerings by the world’s biggest companies. For instance, the swift ran on the Snapdragon 410 and an adreno 306 GPU. The phone baseline is a 16 GB ram, which can be expanded to 32 GB via MicroSD. It also has the typical connectivity options that most phones have: GPS, $G connectivity, Micro-USB and 802.11 Wi-Fi. The swift is just an example of the company’s strategy. Even though it was not as fast as other competitors in the market, it offered trade-offs that were useful to the low end customer. At just £239.00 this phone is much cheaper than most of its caliber.
Entering a mature market with such a strategy is difficult, and the problems WileyFox is currently experiencing are testament to that. The company has now officially announced it is going into administration, confirming rumors that it was currently looking for investors and buyers. It is cash strapped, with about 30 people being laid off and 6 staying to help with the administration process. When announcing the move, the company intimated that the reason was to reduce its cost base in Europe, effectively ensuring its long term future across all the markets in which it operated. In the end, cracks in the business model they adopted also contributed to the company downfall. The bigger companies have been aggressive with their low end customer, and can afford to continually do so. Furthermore, Chinese companies have been able to offer even more powerful phones for the same price range.
The future for the company is unclear, but it has shown the industry that offering low end customers an option is viable.