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Mobile operator Turkcell has launched the first locally designed smartphone in Turkey, making an entrance into a weakening market with the hopes of capturing mid-income customers and raising mobile data usage income.
The company unveiled its latest product yesterday at an event where most of the attendants were not informed about what the company was going to say or debut, although Turkcell had already hinted it was working on a local mobile device under the project name Gebze.
The smartphone has been completely developed by Turkish engineers, although serial production will initially be undertaken in China; later, however, production in Turkey will begin as well.
Turkcell CEO Süreyya Ciliv said they had high hopes for the phone, which will be a T40 model, adding that they would attempt to attract Turkish users with special features and the inclusion of Turkish traditional motifs and sounds.
The phone, which will hit stores by the end of September, will have several case options, including ones with blue beads or traditional lace and carpet patterns, in addition to offering a number of alarm and ring sounds associated with Turkish culture.
The phone is designed to ease access to smartphones in the Turkish market, Ciliv said, while refusing to promise that it would be the cheapest device on the market.
“Our priority wasn’t designing the cheapest phone; our aim was developing a smartphone that will lead the way in many features rather than following in the footsteps of that which has already been done,” he said, adding that the price would only be announced immediately before the market debut.
T40 is the first locally designed smartphone, although it is not Turkcell’s first phone, as the leading Turkish telecommunications company has previously put five phones on the market, selling 1 million units in total.
In total, Turkcell’s locally designed phones have saved around 500 million Turkish Liras, Ciliv said, noting the importance of developing a local smartphone in this respect as well. The negative impact of mobile phone imports, boosted by the rising demand for smartphones, on Turkey’s current account deficit is growing at alarming rates.
Positive impact on current gap
“We used to calculate the average price for imported phones at $150, but rising smartphone imports forced us to raise it to $500. Therefore, it will add around $5 billion to the current account deficit by year’s end,” Information and Communications Technologies Authority of Turkey (BTK) Chairman Tayfun Acarer said at the event.
Turkcell is also planning to contribute to Turkish trade accounts by exporting the smartphone to the nine countries in which it is active.
“We’ve sold our previous phones in Belarus and [northern] Cyprus and we want to expand this to the nine countries we’re present in,” he said.
Turkcell’s smartphone launch comes at a time when the high-end smartphone market, which Samsung dominates along with Apple, is slowing.
Survival in the tight market has become more difficult as the turnover of new products accelerates ever more.
Touching on the tablet that it launched last year, Ciliv said Turkcell had managed to sell all its stocks, but added that the company was not revisiting the market for now due to a current lack of new innovations to improve the product. Hurriyet Daily
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