Like a prediction on the Rise of the Low End Smartphones, this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC)has highlighted the trend of cheaper devices. It is undeniable that the shift of technology has also moved to wearables such as smartwatches and Google Glass. The future of mobile as cheaper and wearable is the tone that has been set for 2014. We are already anxious to see what MWC 2015 will offer. Nonetheless, we suspect that it might have to do something with connectivity. That is, making the internet more accessible and available.
When it comes to cheaper, we are not only talking big brands changing their market penetration strategy, but we are now talking new brands specifically targeting the low-end of the market. Think XTouch. Never really heard of it right, or at all. My exact reaction… not really! Interestingly, the XTouch products bear a strikingly close resemblance to the Samsung flagship. Nonetheless, it makes sense after learning that the XTouch Headquarters are in Shenzhen mainland China.
In terms of U.S. Dollar value, the XTouch devices are on the lower end of the price tag but not so much on Zambian terms. Anything over K1,000 is pretty pricey, however, it appears people are willing to pay for a high-end smartphone costing K5,000 +. I would guestimate a low end smartphone to cost approximately between K275 and K1500. Goophone is another low end smartphone producer.
According to Mashable, the Nokia X, also known as Nokia Normandy, will sell for about $120 (approx. K 672). It is just well designed enough and feature rich enough that it could become the first smartphone for a wide array of budget-conscious consumers. Brace yourself for this next bit. It turns out that the Nokia X is not authentic Android. It doesn’t even come with the Google Play Store nor Gmail, Chrome, nor Google Maps! I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking, but I won’t say it. Instead, the pure Android apps have been replaced by Outlook and Microsoft Exchange, Nokia Express browser and Here Maps. And remember, it has an open source Android OS meaning it’s a trimmed version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. FYI, the devices will not be sold in US, Canada, Korea or Japan.
What if you could buy a phone which cost only K150? You could! Mozilla has broken the smartphone price barrier by unveiling a Firefox prototype aimed at the developing world costing $25. The device will be able to run simple apps and make use of mobile internet. Mozilla created the low end smartphone in partnership with Chinese low-cost chip maker Spreadtrum. “These solutions expand the global accessibility of open web smartphones to first-time and entry-level smartphone buyers by reducing the time and cost required for handset makers to bring these devices to market,” said Spreadtrum in a press statement. Analysts claim it would appeal to the type of people who currently buy cheap ‘feature’ phones.
I can see this potentially becoming huge in Zambia if things are done right. Smartphone usability would enable the delivery of convenient services to the most average person. Seamless communication over the internet, shopping, banking, paying bills, education, and health made more accessible. Better yet, affordable and reliable internet. Fantasizing is not a crime!
On the other hand, wearables are expected to become the norm post- MWC 2014. Wearables have actually captured the public’s imagination and pockets. Smartwatches are on such high demand that stores such as Cell Site and Connect Zambia are constantly running out of stock. The saddest part about all this is that, Samsung Zambia has been advertising the Galaxy Note 3 + Gear but has apparently never stocked the Gear (according to sales reps). Additionally, other stores have also proceeded to advertise the Gear but never had it or they don’t even know when they’ll ever stock it. Unfortunately, it takes some leg work and a few phonecalls to discover where the latest gadgets in Zambia are being sold.
Disclaimer: The mention of XTouch and Goophone in the same article, in no way implies that we are associating the brands together.