Many have called sub-$100 Android smartphones Google's doomsday weapon. Some have also noticed that the onslaught of inexpensive Android devices is killing competition as we speak, resulting in the Android/iOS duopoly. One can buy inexpensive Android phones today the vast majority being white-label Chinese knock-offs. There are a few exceptions, like the affordable Android handsets Huawei's been shipping to the UK and US. More inexpensive handsets from other second-tier vendors are due with the news that Arima Communications is prepping a range of sub-$100 Android smarphones for a summer 2011 launch, per DigiTimes' report:
Arima Communications is currently developing Android-based smartphones with a FOB (free on board) price below US$100 and will begin delivering samples to clients for testing in June 2011, company president Owen Chen was quoted by the Chinese-language Commercial Times as saying. During the period from June-September, Arima's handset shipments will top two million units a month and further climb to 2.5 million starting October, Chen revealed.
That's a lot of Android devices for a relatively unknown vendor in the brand name smartphone market. However, those familiar with the industry know that this division of Arima Group is a giant in OEM/ODM business, manufacturing phones for companies such as Acer or Toshiba. Just like Acer and Asus became Asian Tigers that expanded from their limited space as an OEM/ODM to PC companies such as Dell, HP, Packard Bell, Gateway etc., now communication OEM/ODM companies are entering the market. For instance, the company is expected to increase shipments to five million units in the second quarter of 2011, up over four million handsets shipped during the previous quarter, the publication noted. Should Apple, RIM and Nokia be worried?
The greater choice in the sub-$100 market is no doubt the key tipping point. These devices could send even Apple's market share down as Google's platform works its way down and goes after the low-end market segments. Apple, of course, is a premium play. The California-based iPhone maker accounts to a whopping half the profits in the entire handset business even though it enjoys only four percent of the global cell phone market. Plus, their smartphone market share is in the 20+ percent range. Cheap Androids could also accelerate the erosion of Symbian and spoil the fun for Windows Phone-powered Nokia phones.
Then again, OEM/ODM giants such as Arima Communications and Arima Group should really invest in the appearance of their websites, which remind us of web sites from 1990s. Once they clear that hurdle, everybody will start taking them very seriously.
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