TBY talks to Santosh Varghese, General Manager, Middle East & Africa of Toshiba Gulf, on the company's brand in the region, new innovations, and the evolution of IT in Dubai.

Santosh Varghese
Santosh Varghese was appointed General Manager of the Middle East and Africa region of Toshiba Gulf in 2006 and manages the storage products and solutions business and Toshiba lifestyle electronics business. In addition to this role, he also manages the innovation division at Toshiba Gulf. Prior to joining Toshiba in 2003, Varghese was Business Development Manager for HP servers and storage products at Emirate Technology Company (EMITAC) from 1997-2002. He started his career with Godrej Tech Pacific, the largest IT distributor in the Asian Pacific region, overseeing new business development and market and channel expansion strategies for the company.

How has the Toshiba brand evolved in the UAE over the last 10 years?

Toshiba is very strong in the region and has high brand equity. Customers trust us for the quality and reliability of our products and innovative technologies. Toshiba brand is well known in this region for mobile computing products and personal storage products via Toshiba notebooks, hard disks, and memory products. We are also popular in consumer electronics such as televisions and home appliances. Toshiba Gulf, based in Jebel Ali Free Zone, is a regional HQ for the Middle East and Africa. The role of this office is to ensure the introduction of the latest products and technology, which are a local fit to the region's consumer demand. Our unique selling point is the technology and innovation our products provide. All of the latest products are launched in line with the global launch. Usually, there is a time lag when introducing technologies in this part of the world. However, we have ensured that when there is a global launch, Dubai also has the latest product. One good thing about this city is that it adapts to new technology faster than the rest of the world. We have used Dubai as a showcase for our innovative technology and state-of-the-art products, and also as a logistics hub to cater to the rest of the Middle East and Africa region.

Do you think the physical storage market will maintain its strength?

The storage category is evolving into new technologies and products, incorporating these new ideas. With the demand for increased memory capacity due to the advent of smartphones and IoT devices, as well as due to the prevalence of social networking services and the production of videos and photos at an ever higher resolution, the volume of data generated worldwide is growing exponentially. Furthermore, these devices have increased the demand for storage with lower power consumption, along with the requirement of larger capacities. In 2007, Toshiba was the first in the world to announce 3D flash memory stacking technology. Recently, Toshiba released the 3D flash memory called BiCS FLASH. BiCS FLASH is a new generation of flash memory that is 64-layer and will boost storage capacity. In 1Q2017, we will launch a new innovative storage solution for the backup of smartphones. Canvio for Smartphone is an innovative portable storage device for backing up and charging Android phones in a single operation. Physical personal storage is still a relevant and important device to store precious memories and important data.

What is your outlook for the IT sector in Dubai?

Dubai is becoming a crowded IT market, with a lot of brands coming in and, perhaps, confusing the consumer. For example, you can find a smartphone for AED300 (USD81.7) and another for AED3,000 (USD817). Dubai is setting up a certain standards system. When that is implemented, the competition will be reduced and fly-by-night operators will be stopped. We need to work with the authorities to ensure that these cheap and low-quality products do not come and spoil the total user experience of the people who are tech savvy and want to adapt to new products and services. At Toshiba, our key pillars are storage, energy, and infrastructure. We need to develop these three key pillars in Dubai and the rest of the region. We are excited about our new products and technology that we will be launching in 2017, which will add value and enhance the customer experience in using the latest products and solutions. We are introducing Transfer Jet technology, enabling the high-speed transfer of large data files between two electronic devices with just the touch or close proximity of two devices. Toshiba is also excited about “Eyefi" connected features in our new memory cards, supporting embedded wireless communication and built-in data transfer.