Vodafone has announced the release of its most affordable ultra low cost handsets to date, intended to give millions of people in emerging markets the opportunity to share in the benefits of mobile technology for the first time.
Launching in the first instance in India, Turkey and 8 markets in Africa – The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Qatar, South Africa and Tanzania – it is in emerging markets such as these that the potential of the mobile phone as a powerful social enabler is most apparent. For example, more than 11 million registered customers across Vodafone’s footprint now rely on their mobile phones for money transfers and bill payments. Vodafone is enfranchising its customers both by extending the countries offering such services and by rolling out more devices which give access to them.
To maximize the availability of the handsets across countries with sizeable and isolated rural populations, the launches will be supported by an extensive logistics infrastructure, reaching deep rural segments where mobile penetration typically remains low. In India, it is expected that device availability will reach 60% of the population.
Patrick Chomet, Vodafone’s Group Director of Terminals, said, “The cost of mobile handsets can be one of the most significant barriers for people in accessing and benefiting from the growing number of socially valuable mobile services. The lives of people who use these phones – the Vodafone 150 and Vodafone 250 – will be changed and improved as they become part of the mobile society. I am proud of the work we have done and will continue to do in this critical area of customer empowerment.”
The Vodafone 150 and Vodafone 250 both offer excellent voice and SMS services, as well as support for mobile payment services. The two devices share most specification features, the main differences between them being that the Vodafone 250’s screen is both colour and slightly larger, and it has an FM radio.
By focusing on a custom-built feature set and packaging design – without any compromise to user experience, quality or safety – and by successfully leveraging vendor and partner relationships along the supply chain, Vodafone and handset manufacturer TCL have been able to significantly reduce the usual manufacturing costs and, therefore, the retail price.
The Vodafone 150 will retail unsubsidised at below $15 USD and the Vodafone 250 will retail unsubsidised at below $20 USD, depending on the local market.