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Pepsi in China smartphone play

News, 23 November 2015
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BEIJING: A month after it first indicated it was planning to offer a Pepsi smartphone in China, the soft drinks giant has launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising 3m yuan to build 4,000 handsets.

If the required amount is raised, manufacturing will be licensed out to a third party. In its first day on crowdfunding site JD Finance, the Pepsi Phone raised 580,325 yuan, Pocket-lint reported; at that rate the phone should meet its target in the 14 days the process still has to run.

The price funders will pay for the Android handset, that comes with a mid-range spec, will depend on how quickly they get in. Quartz detailed a sliding scale, where the first thousand people to pledge funds could buy a phone for 499 yuan, the second thousand will pay 699 yuan, the third thousand 999 yuan and the final thousand 1,299 yuan.

"The P1 comes equipped with the Pepsi logo engraved on the back, and ships with Pepsi-themed wallpaper. But other than that, it's your ordinary Android phone," it reported.

When the project was first floated, a spokeswoman said the phones would only be available in China but the effort was "similar to recent globally licensed Pepsi products which include apparel and accessories".

Last year Pepsi launched a limited-edition line of apparel, accessories, electronics, and skateboards designed by fashion labels to coincide with the FIFA World Cup.

At the time, Kristin Patrick, Pepsi's global chief marketing officer, explained that the brand wanted to "create covetable product that was high quality and well designed".

"We did not want the product emblazoned with logos, as this generation of consumers is not interested in branding that is too heavy handed," she added. The Pepsi phone seems to fit that description.

And the risks for Pepsi appear negligible as it has lined up buyers in advance; if the funding target isn't met, no phones get made.


Quartz noted that the Pepsi phone was indicative of a wider trend, as Chinese manufacturers  like Xiaomi and Huawei have pushed down smartphone prices to target entry level buyers.

"Smartphones are no longer cutting-edge technology – they're swag," it said. So brands like Samsung and Apple may find themselves in competition with a soft drinks maker.

Data sourced from Quartz, Pocket-lint, Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff

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