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Mobile phone companies doing a Nano

By Seema Sindhu in New Delhi
February 04, 2008 09:59 IST
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Mahipal flaunts his Motorola W215 mobile phone fondly to the fellow peasants sitting in village chaupal. He earns his living from two kilas he owns in Ladpur village of Haryana.

And he is most excited showing the pictures of his year-old daughter which he clicked from his mobile phone, it has an integrated VGA camera with 4X zoom.

Not only this, he enjoys his time plugged into FM radio integrated in his handset while irrigating his farm. And it comes for a dirt cheap price, gift ensured if guessed right, Rs 2,687 only.

The paradigm shift from focusing on high-end to low-end mobiles is as exciting as the launch of Tata Nano.

So far, the high-end customers had the upper hand and more innovative products to choose from. Now, the low-end buyers also have myriad products to choose from -- and icing on the cake, at very low prices.

While major Indian telecom companies are going gung-ho on the growth in the sector, mobile phone equipments that are provided to the entry-level market are still a concern.

A majority of the population in the rural and semi-urban areas is not very technology friendly. Mobile phone is still a new gadget to this population, it attracts them but understanding and using it might be a task for most.

Keeping this in mind, Motorola has come up with some user friendly equipment in its W series.

Llyod Mathias, marketing director of Mobile Devices, Motorola India, says, "Even a first-time buyer doesn't think of buying a black and white mobile phone. The W series is meant to provide greater first experience. The objective is to provide maximum features and uncompromised style at cheaper prices with an ease of technology."

Handsets such as COLORMOTO W205, RADIOMOTO W209, FOTOMOTO W215 and MOTOYUVA W180 are full on features such as lantern, functionality, calendar, currency converter, alarm clock, auto keypad lock, stop watch and polyphonic ring tones and the price ranges between Rs 1,999 and 3,023 maximum.

On an average, the battery provides an amazing talk time of 550+ minutes, with standby time approximately upto 450+ hours-- a boon for villagers who have to walk tens of kilometers just to charge their cellphones due to scanty power supply.  

To top it all, you can customise your mobile phone to type in Hinglish. "W180 has unique Hinglish predictive text input, based on iTAP technology. The Hinglish dictionary contains 30,000 words taken from the Hindi dictionary," adds Mathias.

The software will predict both the Hindi and English spellings while typing. Moreover, the user can send and receive messages in languages like Tamil, Telugu and Bengali.

W180 is also equipped with CrystalTalk technology, so that you can talk and be heard even in cacophonic environments. It is essentially a noise reduction and volume adjustment technology.

The user will be able to save himself the hassle of trying to find a quiet place or clasping one ear shut while making a call in the midst of high background noise.

The patent technology of Motorola uses a series of algorithms in the digital signal processor to filter out the caller's voice from background noise and then amplifies it, while also able to determine background noise on the other side and increase/decrease volume accordingly.

Anil Arora-- Business Group Head, GSM, LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd.-- says, "entry level mobiles contribute approximately 45 per cent of the overall market and about 60 per cent of the market for entry level phones lies in rural areas."

Certainly then it is not wise to ignore this chunk. "Our Bullet series is meant to serve the same, to give customers a unique ownership experience and cost effective proposition," adds Arora.

And so feels Devinder Kishore, Director Marketing, Nokia India,  "according to a study done by LIRNEasia and AC Nielson, close to 100 million new cellular subscribers are expected to come from the rural areas over the next two years. And the prospective subscribers are reasonably heavy users, making an average of 40 calls a month. Nokia's strategy will be to continue working with operators, customers and the government to drive down the cost of mobility thereby making it affordable."

Nokia has recently unveiled (2 days back) Nokia 2600 classic and Nokia 1209 under its entry-level umbrella. Besides basic features,  2600 classic includes an FM radio and a VGA camera. 1209 offers additional cost management features to make phone sharing easy and convenient.

Innovations include the pre-paid tracker, a cost-tracking application, and the multiple phonebook-- which allows up to five people to store personal contact lists of up to 200 numbers on a single phone. Designed for first-time buyers, the Nokia 1209 incorporates Nokia's intuitive user interface, dust resistance and offers up to 80 languages.

Although the high-end market will continue to be the focus for the sector, the untapped potential of the low-end markets is now seen as the next volume driver.

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Seema Sindhu in New Delhi
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