News / Science & Technology

Low-End High-Tech Mobile Phones to Reach World Markets

Ralph Jennings
The iPhone has become a status symbol in much of the developing world. But smartphones and their next of kin, media tablets, are falling in price as low-cost Chinese developers gain ground. That means cheaper mobile devices in countries that find the high end too expensive.

Smartphones such as the iPhone, the Blackberry and Samsung’s Galaxy series have sold handily for years in developed markets. Another 875 million are expected to ship this year.

Consumers in developed countries may pay more than $500 for each touchscreen handset. But prices are slipping as global shipments of smartphones and tablets grow, motivating new manufacturers to test the market. That trend means easier access for consumers in developing countries.

Wilson Mao, an analyst with market research firm TrendForce in Taipei, said smartphones eventually may sell for less than $100. He said they would be made in China.

Mao said the lowest priced smartphones will sell for $65 to $70. He said companies such as Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE, among China’s first-tier smartphone makers, will provide these handsets and that they already have experience in selling overseas.

Figures from the tech market research firm Gartner show that Chinese brands Huawei, TCL and ZTE have all seen sales grow. They shipped a combined 150 million smartphones last year, up about 15 percent over 2011. Gartner data also shows that last year smartphones cut into the market for less technically advanced feature phones, which were once the staple for developing countries.

Silicon Valley market research firm IHS iSuppli forecasts that low-end smartphone shipments will reach 559 million in 2016, more than twice last year’s figure. The cheaper units, led by China, are largely bound for the nearby developing markets of India and Indonesia.

Consumers will preview the newest smartphones and tablets in Taiwan next week. Smartphones big enough to look like tablets and tablets small enough to rival phones, for example, are forecast to go on display from Tuesday at the buzzing Computex Taipei tech show. Computex is one of the world’s largest annual tech shows and will bring together at least 1,700 exhibitors through its final day June 8.

Smartphones and slightly larger media tablets have fallen in price partly because components cost less. For example, Silicon Valley’s iconic chipmaker Intel has worked with mobile carriers in the emerging markets of Africa, India and Russia to develop obscure smartphone brands by offering them the key component, its Atom mobile device processor.

This year Intel plans to unveil a line of mobile device chips under the Silvermont series name. The company says these processors, designed for better smartphone photos and stronger Internet identity protection, will be affordable to producers of low-end smartphones. Intel controls 83 percent of the world processor market.
Competition also has increased as mobile device makers scramble to fill a void left by declining PC sales.

In the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same time a year ago, shipments of the traditional home and office computers dropped nearly 14 percent. Shipments are forecast to fall again for full year 2013 as the popularity of tablets has slowed replacements of PCs.

C.K. Lu, a smartphone analyst with Gartner in Taipei, says price pressure will mainly hit middle-end smartphone makers over the next two years as they struggle to differentiate themselves from the low end.

Taiwan’s HTC is one middle-end smartphone maker, and it reported a squeeze in profits over the past six months.

Lu said smartphones selling for $150 or less lack the screen quality and speed of their pricier peers, but still perform. “It does put price pressure especially on the middle end, it makes the middle end player more and more difficult to differentiate prods from low end because even the low-end spec is very attractive, or another term which is good enough to use,” he said.

Some analysts said top mobile device designers such as Apple eventually will release new devices to follow the low-price trend. Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics in Britain, said Apple must release a small iPad within three years for hundreds of millions of cash-strapped, prepaid users.

Apple currently sells its iPad mini for as little as $329, down from about $400 for the larger iPad 2.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs