The Kurukshetra war between Saregama Carvaan and Shemaroo for Bhagavad Gita speakers

Let me start with a disclosure, first. I have 2 Saregama Carvaan players – a Carvaan Mini Legends and a Carvaan Go. I got both as gifts and while I did listen to the former a bit, I haven’t even opened the Go. Understandably, I’m definitely not the target segment for Saregama’s Carvaan range of music players.

But that doesn’t need to stop me from appreciating how fantastic a product idea it is.

In a world where we’re shunning single-use/single-purpose devices and making our smartphones do everything (I have written about this phenomenon: The Smartphone Swiss Army Knife), Carvaan goes completely against conventional wisdom. It’s a single-use device with a fixed set of songs. That screams ‘not value-for-money’ in India when a smartphone with a current-default of 128GB could hold an endless number of songs, either locally or via streaming.

Saregama has tried to address this by adding some extra features – the player also has FM/AM radio support, can take in a pen drive and play the contents, there is an aux in so that our phone’s songs can be played on a Carvaan (treating it merely as a speaker) and Bluetooth connectivity.

However, all this can be done with a device that we already own – the smartphone. So, investing in a Carvaan seems like overkill. But it clearly isn’t an overkill at all, if you look at the sales! According to the 2018-19 annual report of Saregama (PDF), sale of Carvaan, Mini Carvaan, Music Cards, etc. contribute to 53.92% of the total turnover of the company – the highest earner!

According to the annual report, Carvaan is targeted at the 35+ age group, while Carvaan Go is targeted at the 40-60 age group.

The older you get, the less patience you perhaps have, to fiddle with endless stock and just want to get to something fast. For that attitude, Carvaan works perfectly. Though I’d wager that a voice-based smart assistant could do the trick really well and that too without needing to use any buttons – just tell Alexa to play the best of RD Burman and it would, no doubt, utilizing Saregama’s repository of licensed music on Amazon Music!

But, as Saregama tasted success, it took another company to improvise on Carvaan’s success into a related area – devotional musical content!

Shemaroo launched its range of devotional, pre-loaded content speakers in the first week of August 2019! Interestingly, Saregama launched their range, in response, a month later, in the first week of September!!

That’s not the only area Shemaroo won over Saregama. Shemaroo’s custom-player displays a lot more imagination and creativity!

Take a look at the designs from Shemaroo, for the 4 custom-content/pre-loaded speakers.

Do the designs seem like a gimmick? The Gita player shaped like a Bhagavad Gita book, or the player for Quran, shaped like Holy Kaaba Sharif? As a gifting product, these designs could do wonders! Here’s an ad in The Economic Times (dated September 30, 2019), pitching the product as a gift!

And look closer! Notice the remote control, something not seen from Carvaan at all yet? Take a closer look at the Bhagavad Gita’s remote control!
1-Love, 2-Happiness, 3-Desire, 4-Stress, 5-Anger, 6-Emotional Balance, 7-Learning Attitude, 8-Work Life, 9-Leadership, 0-Faith!

And the Bhajan Vani remote?
1-Lord Vishnu, 2-Lord Shiva, 3-Devi Maa, 4-Lord Ram, 5-Lord Hanuman, 6-Lord Krishna, 7-Lord Ganesh, 8-Sai Baba, 9-(Lord) Bonus.

The Ganesha Bhajan Vani doesn’t have a remote, but the Ibaadat player sure has one! The picture is a bit hazy but I notice dedicated buttons for Azan among others!

In comparison, Saregama Carvaan’s dedicated devotional music players seem vanilla! It clearly looks like the new entrant has learnt really well from the pioneer, to outdo the leader, at least in design!

Take a look at some of Saregama Carvaan custom-players.

It looks like the design aspect has seen only 2 variations – the color of the player and an image printed on the front.

Saregama no doubt has a legacy of being the ‘music’ pioneer and is known for its extensive IP (music library), but Shemaroo is catching up quite smartly, starting with user-friendly (user-appropriate) design! This is a great example of product design propping the entire value proposition.