Lewa Custom ROM, which targets at low priced android smart phones, has accumulated 2million users in the past two years. And yes, it’s still far from satisfactory.
Not long ago, local tech giants’ moves seemingly revealed that ROM should be a valuable mobile Internet entrance. In July 2012, Tencent put in RMB 50 million on Lewa and kidnapped Shuame (a flash and root tool) form Qihoo360. Several months later, Baidu invested in another root tool Dashi and also started working on developing its own ROM.
There are two channels from which users of ROM come, 1) smart phone junkies who root their phones on their own and, 2) smart phone related companies and merchants. Lewa took both of the two channels: at first the earlier 2million users mostly fall into the first channel, and in the future the focus will shift to the second. Accordingly Lewa now has several joint projects under progress, and the results remain to be seen in the third quarter.
Actually the first channel is difficult to grow for the long term since the smart phone junkies are after all a small group. I mean who wants to root their phones every month at the risk of turning it into a toy phone… Users from the first channel sometimes do help for improving the products and for brand marketing, but it’s just not likely to see a surge in this group of users. In December 2012, MIUI claimed over 10million users while the shipments were only about 7 million. In other words, without the hardware support, the users of MIUI are quite limited. For a ROM-only startup, it’s tougher.
Through the second channel, manufacturers can preinstall the ROM in phones, which surely brings more users, but needs more cash and efforts as well.