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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid