If you were one of those eager beavers like me who was waiting for India's $4 smartphone wonder and madly prancing around after seeing the two full-page ads in your morning newspaper, and rushing to their website to book yourself the world's cheapest smartphone, you were in for a rude surprise.
Because a $4 phone was what everybody wanted and eagerly waited for even if you were a snobbish iPhone 6 plus user. A $4 smartphone even for the snob is reverse snobbery at its best. A good way to show you are not infra dig.
Funnily enough it was sad that the name of the manufacturer was Ringing Bells, because all the wrong bells were ringing for the poor phone manufacturer this morning. Its baseline read 'Everyone's just a call away', but they were some distance from a click away.
In fact, customers were so unprepared that if you were to enter 0.5 phones as the quantity, what showed up was a phone at half the price. The delivery price also got halved from Rs 40 to Rs 20 in the process. Logical after all. Half a phone must have half the delivery charges, shouldn't it?!
So, technically, you could buy half your phone at half the price.
It was actually such a big blow that one couldn't but help feel bad for the manufacturer. In New Delhi, in the meantime, the brand was getting ready to be launched with VVIPs from the Government with the Defence Minister and a Member of Parliament.
So, what went wrong?
There is no doubt that here was a company in a hurry which had not done its due diligence before its launch. Proving that all the painful trouble that global companies go through before launching their products, and all the criticism they draw for being slow and stodgy, there is merit in being well-prepared and right, rather than quick and wrong.
In the afternoon, the manufacturer issued an apology on its website, but it was a matter of too little, too late. For most Indians, the disastrous launch may mean that the product may need some time to take off, although Rs 291 including postage seems like a steal for a smartphone.
Professor Anand Narasimha says, "You seldom get such disruptive opportunities and to squander them with poor preparation is sacrilege. Remember Flipkart's first Big Billion sale!"
The phone could also have copyright infringement problems because the app icons on the phone look like they have been copied from iPhone.
Ringing Bells, I am sure, has learnt its lesson and understood that they it was dumb in launching the world's cheapest smart phone in such a hurry.
If there is one marketing lesson in this, it is that speed is good, but never at the cost of detail, and slow and steady usually wins the race as the good old adage told us. And, as our previous experience shows, the cheapest in the world is not necessarily the best!