Mon, 24 Jan 2000

New cellular phone sets in the offing

JAKARTA (JP): Major cellular telephone producers plan to launch a wide range of new cellular sets this year to tap the projected hefty increase in demand in the local market.

Ericsson Indonesia's director, Susanto Sosilo, said Ericsson will launch eight models for its different segments -- the first users, technology-oriented users and style-oriented users.

He said Ericsson has been launching more products, such as the T series, for the style-oriented segment, which was actually the company's biggest market.

Nokia Mobile Phones Indonesia's general manager, Alexander Lambeek, said the Finland-based cellular producer will launch at least three new models to take advantage of the higher demand.

The first new handset to hit the market this year will be the dual-band GSM 900/1800 Nokia 8850, which will be available this week at a minimum price tag of Rp 7 million (US$1,000).

"It is part of our premium series, products of which are designed especially for people who live in style and like to show others that they are fashionable. We have quite a market for this particular segment," he said.

Samsung Electronics Indonesia's general manager of marketing, Lee Kang Hyung, said the company would focus on products using its latest technology.

"Samsung will launch six products this year. At least two of them will be multimedia phones, which will enable users to connect to the Internet or store pictures and music in their phones like our MP-3 Phone," he said.

Samsung will launch its Internet Phone in August and MP-3 Phone in September, he said.

Lambeek said Nokia had also prepared a product to cater to customers' growing demand for smart phones that would allow them to access the Internet.

Lambeek said his company would launch in February the Nokia 7110, which, he said, will be the world's first media phone design based on wireless application protocol to allow users access to the Internet and conduct simple banking transaction using their phones.

Last year, Nokia launched the first Internet-enabled phone in Indonesia, the Nokia 9110.

Operations manager for Motorola's personal communications sector in South Asia, Husni Erwinn, said the U.S.-based company would also introduce several new products to win in the tighter competition.

According to data compiled by the cell phone producers, the industry's monthly sales in Indonesia significantly increased from approximately 26,0000 phones in 1997 to between 30,000 and 40,000 in 1998 and 70,000 in 1999.

He said the mobile phone industry expected to sell between 80,000 and 100,000 phones per month this year.

The four cellular producers' executives agreed mobile phones with unique appearances would dominate the market this year.

Husini said almost 50 percent of local users had a tendency to value the design more than the technology of the product.

Many Indonesian customers craved the latest models to add to or replace their existing phones.

"A great many Indonesian customers change their phones with the latest model from any brand once every three to six months. They like to show off," Husini told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

"In the near future, they will likely possess several cell phones to suit different activities, just like they keep different colors or pattern of socks to wear on certain days and occasions," he added.

Husni said such a tendency would contribute to the robust sales of cell phones in the country this year and ahead. (cst)