By Telecom Lead Team: Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal
has urged mobile phone makers like Nokia, Samsung, Research in Motion and
others to float a tender for 100 million smartphones and bring down average
prices below the $50-barrier.
Smartphone prices have crashed in the last two years, but average costs are
still about $100.
Mittal said that GSMA, which represents over 800 mobile
phone operators, should lead the initiative of bringing telcos together.
The difficulty that the industry will have for the next model will be how to
provide very inexpensive smartphones in the country. Less than 5 percent of the
customers in India had a smartphone while the penetration was even lower in
Africa, according to a report in Economic Times.
“My suggestion is that countries can give a huge
tender to a single phone maker to deliver the smartphones as long as they are
below $50,” he added.
Mittal, who was speaking at Mobile World Congress 2012, pointed out that
customers were doing banking, value added services as well as transactions on
low-end phones, and smartphone adoption would enable them to do a lot more.
GSMA’s earlier initiate to get mobile operators to jointly place orders for
smartphones had been a grand success, and it was therefore time to replicate
the same model.
In 2006, GSMA had invited bids for a sub $30 handsets and operators in emerging
market placed order for more than 12 million cellphones in the first phase
alone after Motorola said it would supply these low-cost phones.
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