Vodafone to launch ultra low cost mobile phones

Vodafone is getting ready to jump in the race to launch ultra low-cost mobile phones for Indian customers. Still about half of the population does not own a mobile phone and manufacturers and service providers alike see great business potential in the country.

Vodafone is planning to launch a mobile phone priced at just Rs. 700 mainly targeting rural customers in the country. Other manufacturers like Nokia, Micromax, Fly, and Ray have already lined up their ultra-low-cost handsets, however, this is the first time a handset will be priced below the Rs. 1,000 mark.

The handset will be launched across the country to bring down the entry price for first-time users. The company wants to provide an affordable option to the masses to get the connectivity in one of the fastest growing telecom markets. The phone will be widely available through retailers all over the country.

The market leader, Nokia launched a mobile priced at Rs. 1,300, and Vodafone has launched a phone for Rs. 1,200. There are numerous Chinese handsets available for very low prices but they come with any sort of guarantee or warranty.

“The average user in rural India does not spend as much as mobile consumers in Delhi or in Mumbai. Though the majority still make a revenue stream for mobile operators, the idea is to make mobile phones affordable and achievable for everyone,” said Marten Pieters, MD, and CEO, Vodafone Essar.

Now the cheaper option means that first time users will get the branded device at affordable rates and with assured after sales services. The phone will offer basic features like voice, SMS and phonebook facility, alarm clock, calculator, 2 games and currency converter. It will be powered by 500mA battery enabling 5 hours of talk time and up to 400 hours of standby time.

The UK based telecom service provider will also launch the ultra low cost handsets in markets like Egypt, Turkey, and Africa.