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In Conversation with Om Buffalo, Product Liaison for WPS Office India

WPS Office

WPS Office is an Office Suite available on multiple platforms (Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android).

Few months ago, the company announced it’s official  entry in India.

Recently, we had the honour of conducting an interview with Om Buffalo. Om Buffalo serves as the product liaison for India at Kingsoft Office and is responsible for WPS’ business development in India.

Om Buffalo - WPS Product Liaison for India, Kingsoft Office

Here is the complete interview:

Q. Tell us a little about the company, and its decision to enter India

WPS Office is the international version of Kingsoft Office’s flagship all-in-one office software suite. It is a part of Kingsoft Group, which is publicly listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, and is one of four companies running independently with Lei Jun (CEO of Xiaomi) as the chairman. Kingsoft Office has over 2000 employees and six research centers across the world and in the coming months, it is also preparing for a separate listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. With this Initial Public Offering (IPO), Kingsoft Office plans to raise $300 million.

After China, India is our largest market therefore we decided to announce the global launch of WPS Office 2020 here. Before the official announcement, we already had a strong foothold of more than 23 million monthly active users in India acquired organically as well as via pre-installation deals with various smartphone brands. We looked closer into the market and understood that there are several factors unique to India that makes it an ideal market for us: a rising population driven by millennials, a huge student population, a massive workforce consisting of entrepreneurs, freelancers and so on. All these user segments regularly use office softwares however, they had limited options to choose from and many couldn’t found them really expensive. Consequently, many users such as freelancers, educational institutions and so on were using pirated software. This meant to us that users here needed an affordable, yet high-quality office software tool which can cater to varying needs. Users needed to know that a tool such as WPS Office could be a fantastic alternative with great features built keeping the new-age, dynamic worker in mind.

Q. Since you’ve recently entered the Indian market, what is your strategy to onboard customers?

Our primary strategy is to localize our products. WPS Office 2020 is already available in Hindi and going forward we plan to add more Indian languages. We also have customized templates with Indian designs and are working with local designers to offer additional templates. For our next phase of growth, we are planning to partner with educational institutes and large corporates. To further boost downloads, we will also continue to partner with device manufacturers for pre-installation deals.

At the moment, we aren’t focusing on revenues from India. Our primary focus is to spread awareness about our product among every user segment in the country and have them try the suite to understand its full potential. I’m sure that revenues will follow once users see the value in the product and opt for the premium version.

Q. India is a price sensitive market, so do you have separate pricing for India?

We understood that India is a price sensitive market and we took it as an opportunity to solidify our presence with the free version of WPS Office 2020. We want users to try the free version and eventually realize the full potential of the product. It has most functions fit for daily use and is not a “Trial” or “Read-only” version. Furthermore, the premium version with enhanced features only costs $29.99 which is approximately Rs. 2,131, for a yearlong subscription. If you compare this to market leaders, you’ll realize that WPS Office 2020 is half the price of it.

Q. What is your current strength in India and what are your plans of expansion?

Prior to our launch of WPS Office 2020 this year, we set-up an office in Bangalore with a ten-member team to focus on sales and operations. We plan on expanding the team as we continue to grow in India. For example, we are going to shift a part of our R&D here from China, primarily focused on localization. In addition, a third of the total $300 million we plan to raise in our upcoming IPO on the Shanghai Stock Exchange will be dedicated to developing global markets, including a large amount in India.

Q. How many smartphone manufactures have you partnered with for pre-installation deals, and are there any plans on increasing these?

We currently have pre-intallation deals with most of the major smartphone manufacturers. These include, Oppo, Vivo, Gionee, Asus, amongst others.

Q. How do you intend to challenge brands like MS Office?

We understand that India is diverse with people from varying cultures, social and economic backgrounds therefore we are focusing on localizing our products to provide to the varying needs of various user segments. We also realized that software piracy is rampant in India, alongside many other countries, primarily owing to high prices and consequent inaccessibility of authorized software. We saw this as another opportunity for us to educate users that there is an alternate to using pirated office software, which is cost-effective and encompasses all features (and more) of Microsoft Office, starting from the look and feel. We strongly believe that software such as an office suite shouldn’t be very expensive and should be accessible to any and all.

Q. Any plans to develop products for Chrome OS (Chromium OS)?

Yes, we are currently in the process of developing a Chomium OS version.

(Image – WPS Office)

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