ARCHOS wants to make headway in the UK smartphone market with its range of cut-price 4G devices, dual-Sim handsets and connected objects.
The French electronics manufacturer unveiled its Helium family, which includes the flagship HD, quad-core Helium 50, available in March, and a 4G tablet as well as a smaller smartphone, the Helium 45, which will hit the UK in April. None of the devices surpass £230, and account director Ian Barnett said ‘the right price for the right spec’ was crucial to its chances in the market.
He said: ‘We’re really going to get people’s attention with the price point. That’s what we’re all about; bringing in cutting edge technology at a really affordable price. The Helium 50 will have a retail price of £229, and because of our fantastic relationship with Qualcomm we will be the first to bring a handset like this to market at this price point. We will probably have a three or four month advantage before we see our competitors doing it.’
Barnett told Mobile that Archos was ‘in discussions’ with the major UK retailers and operators, although nothing could be confirmed because the smartphone maker ‘may be looking at exclusive partners’ to start off with at launch.
Archos is also earmarking March for the launch of its Titanium range of smartphones. The Titanium 40B has an RRP of £99, and owners will benefit from a dual-Sim system. Barnett added that dual-Sim and Sim-free smartphones were becoming increasingly popular in the UK, following the trend in continental Europe [see box], and the manufacturer’s portfolio reflects this.
He added: ‘Dual-Sim is becoming more popular in the UK because people are realising they don’t want to be tied to a contract.
‘Pretty much all of our phones except the Helium range will be dual-Sim. We may do a specific phone for an operator with just a single Sim, so we can do both. For our dual-Sim products, you can just go into a retail environment and pick it off the shelf.’
The smartphones are just a component in a bigger suite of connected products Archos plans to release this year. A smart home tablet, mini cam, motion ball and smart plug were all revealed, as well as three incarnations of smartwatch which may be bundled with its smartphones in the future.
Marketing director Benedicte Ernoult said: ‘The smartwatch is the companion of the smartphone so it’s logical to make bundles, but it all depends on the retailer.’
Archos is confident a ‘switch in the market’ towards Sim-free devices will increase its chance of success in the UK. Benedicte Ernoult told Mobile Sim-free was gaining popularity in France and Germany, and the trend is catching on in Britain.
She said: ‘We can offer them a 4G quad-core phone for a very affordable price. By and large people are still buying from operators here, but I think it’s switching. You can get airtime subscriptions at a very low price, so you can have a cheap tariff and a nice low-cost smartphone.’