Fans of fizzy drinks may have something new to look forward to, as Pepsi confirms its plans to launch a line of cola inspired smartphones and accessories. Partnering with a Chinese manufacturing firm, the soft drink giant is set to release their first Pepsi themed handset by the end of the year, with additional models and accessories to follow in 2016. The announcement comes after months of online speculation that PepsiCo was considering expanding its brand into the world of mobile tech, with rumours being supported by the leak of several images that appeared to show an Android styled smartphone sporting the Pepsi logo. Well the time for speculation has passed, and the company has officially announced the imminent arrival of the Pepsi P1 smartphone.
The Pepsi Generation
Pepsi has always searched for new and innovative ways to market their brand. From sponsoring pop music tours and product placement in blockbuster films to a full range of licensed apparel, they’ve managed to keep their brand name in the collective conscious of several generations of fizzy drink fans. That’s no mean feat, and it requires a finger on the pulse of each new cultural touchstone. Today, that touchstone is tech. As a spokesmen for PepsiCo puts it, “Pepsi has always moved at the speed of culture, and today technology is a key cultural pillar at the heart of consumer interaction…we are committed to engaging with consumers in innovative ways to grow our brand.” While the same spokesmen confirmed that Pepsi has no intention of moving into the manufacturing end of the smartphone business, this partnership is clearly an opportunity to raise the brand’s profile, particularly at a time when sugary soft drinks are coming under increased scrutiny from the public.
Introducing the Pepsi P1
Setting the merits of fizzy drinks aside, what does the Pepsi P1 have to offer? Advance reports have been rather sketchy, and neither Pepsi nor their licensing partner Wanfeng have as yet confirmed any of the handset’s specs. That being said, various leaks have given us some idea of what to expect. The Pepsi P1 is a budget handset offering decent, if not particularly high end, specs. It will feature a 5.5 inch 1080p display, with a 13 megapixel main camera and a 5 megapixel front facing camera for selfies. Under the hood is a 1.7 GHZ MediaTek processor, 2GB of RAM and a decent, if not impressive, 16 GB of internal storage. It is expected that the Pepsi P1 will come standard with a generous 3000 mAh battery (easily beating most other handsets in its price range), and that it will feature a rear mounted fingerprint sensor. It has also been confirmed that the Pepsi P1 will run the Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system. Further details are still being kept under wraps, but it has been confirmed that the Pepsi P1 smartphone will go to market with a price tag of CNY 1299 (approximately £135).
The Pepsi P1 is slated for release by the end of this year, but before fizzy drink fans in the West get too excited there is a catch. The Pepsi P1 will only be available in China, at least during its initial release. As of this writing there are no plans to market the Pepsi line of smartphones outside of the Chinese market, though that may change if the response to the Pepsi P1 is positive enough to warrant expansion into other territories. Still, it’s an interesting development in the heated Chinese smartphone market, where competitors of all sizes are struggling to maintain their positions in an already over-saturated marketplace.
The Pepsi line of smartphones may ultimately prove to be little more than an interesting diversion, quickly fizzling out after all the media attention goes flat. But as the cost of manufacturing lessens, it would not be surprising to see more global companies using limited edition smartphones to market their brand. Product licensing is a significant part of modern commerce, and if the Pepsi P1 enjoys any amount of success other brands are sure to follow their lead. It may not be long before the Pepsi smartphone is joined by the Coca-Cola tablet or the Irn Bru smartwatch. The mind, quite literally, boggles.