Cheap smartphones forecast to become major market force

Staff Writer, with CNA

Mon, Nov 07, 2011 - Page 11

Telecoms operators are preparing to woo customers by working with smartphone makers to launch bargain models, since consumption power is on the decline, market sources said on Saturday.

Smartphone models with a price tag of less than NT$10,000 (US$333) are expected to drive sales in the overall smartphone market, which is still seeing growing demand, the sources said.

Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), one of the country’s top-three telecoms operators, is scheduled to team up with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電) to unveil a new low-priced model next week.

Since the second quarter of this year, Chunghwa Telecom has been stepping up its efforts to offer bargain models made by HTC, Samsung Electronics of South Korea and Huawei Technology (華為) of China.

In August, Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd (遠傳電信), another top telecom firm in Taiwan, partnered with Huawei Technology to launch Huawei IDEOS XI, a model that runs Google’s Android 2.2 operating system.

Far EasTone is offering the Huawei model for less than NT$5,000, targeting young price-sensitive subscribers who want cellphones to surf the Internet.

Meanwhile, in September, Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) introduced a self-branded smartphone, Fantastic T3, at half the cost of most other brand models, but equipped with a 4.3-inch touch panel and rich in features.

Taiwan Mobile senior manager Cliff Lai (賴弦五) said that while the high-end smartphone market in Taiwan is almost saturated, demand for mid to low-end models is still on the rise.

Lai said high-end smartphones currently account for 50 percent of Taiwan Mobile’s total smartphone sales, while mid to low-end products take the other half, but are expected to rise to between 60 percent and 70 percent of the company’s total sales next year and become the mainstream in the smartphone market in the next couple of years.