Austrian mobile firm targets 'affluent' Indian

Monday, 19 January 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Austrian mobile handset maker Tel.Me. rang its way into the flourishing Indian cellular market on Friday with two top-end products aimed at the country's increasingly affluent middle class.

The four-year-old maker of high-end phones launched two handsets priced at 25,999 rupees and 30,999 rupees to appeal to the well-heeled Indian consumer who regards mobile phones as a fashion statement.

"India is a growing market and it's a market where every brand is welcome," Manfred Jahn, founder and chief executive of Tel.Me., told Reuters.

"We plan to sell about 100,000 phones in 2004 in India and are aiming at a market share of 20 percent in the premium segment."

India's mobile phone market has boomed in the past two years with everybody from plumbers and electricians to teenagers and chief executives buying the latest models thanks to some of the lowest call rates in the world.

No official sales figures are available but analysts say world number one Nokia has a dominant share of the market.

Other major players include Motorola, Siemens AG, Samsung Electronic Co Ltd and Sony Ericsson, a joint venture between Ericsson and Sony Corp.

Tel.Me. is optimistic about carving a niche in India where less than three in 100 people own a mobile phone compared with more than 20 in China and over 60 in Europe.

Close to two million people are entering one of the world's fastest growing wireless markets each month and the customer base is expected to grow to at least 100 million by 2005 from about 28 million.

The mass handset market is highly price sensitive and phones are available as low at $50. But this does not deter Jahn who says India is an "ideal market" for the company, which sold 100,000 handsets in 2003.

"We see even operators subsidising high-end phones in the next two-three years or maybe earlier because the target market of such phones gives very high ARPUs (average revenue per user)."

Source: IANS
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