My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Huawei and Lasco to sell Unlocked dual-SIM smartphones - Why Number Portability means Open Market for unlocked smartphone

Friday, September 25, 2015

Huawei and Lasco to sell Unlocked dual-SIM smartphones - Why Number Portability means Open Market for unlocked smartphone

“As a growing provider of retail financial services, Lasco Financial Services is aware of the changes and emerging trends in global mobile payments. In the near future, we envision consumers will be able to use mobile devices to conduct more everyday financial transactions through the use of mobile devices”

Managing Director of Lasco Financial Services Limited, Jacinth Hall-Tracey, speaking about LASF partnership with Huawei to sell unlocked smartphones and accessories

Partnerships are one of the best way to do business in Jamaicans. You leverage the strength of those involved in the partnership to help you to make progress in a difficult bear market.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Lasco has teamed up with Huawei to sell mobile smartphones as reported in the article “Lasco Financial Enters Phone Business”, Published Friday September 25, 2015 by Camilo Thame, The Jamaica Gleaner



LASF (Lasco Financial Services Limited) had now being authorize to distribute Huawei products and device in Jamaica. The partnership will result in them selling unlocked Huawei smartphones and original parts and accessories at their select locations across the island.

They'll also be selling dual-SIM smartphones, something that’s' sure to stir up the Telecom Provider stranglehold on the market, as they currently don't sell such handsets, to quote Managing Director of Lasco Financial Services Limited, Jacinth Hall-Tracey:  “Customers will be able to purchase affordably priced Huawei devices such as dual-SIM handsets, smartwatches, phone cases, etc”.

Already eight (8) of Lasco's cambios, which offer MoneyGram remittance services as well as loans, will be acting as test-run guinea pigs, selling these unlocked Huawei smartphones and original Huawei accessories. Basically, Huawei is cutting out the middleman, the local Telecom Providers and selling their handsets directly to Jamaicans.

LASF has been a strong performer for the Lasco Group of companies, contributing some 70% to the company's overall income. Remittances are on a roll, with revenue from LASF increasing 50% for financial year ending March 2015.

Already in 2015, they're steamrolling to another record year of profits, with the Second Quarter of 2015 already seeing LASF clocking some JA$192 million which represent an 8% increase when compared to the same period in 2014.

So this investment is just to broaden their profit base in the very competitive but rapidly growing area of unlocked smartphones and original accessories for Huawei, to quote Jacinth Hall-Tracey: “The telecoms retail industry is certainly competitive. However, we believe that the market for smart mobile devices and accessories will continue to increase in Jamaica, and Lasco Financial Services will employ the strategies necessary to become a leading provider is this market”.

But why is Huawei now going into the sale of unlocked smartphones directly to customers?

Huawei and Lasco to sell smartphones - Why Huawei sees Number Portability as an opportunity to sell unlocked smartphone

Not only is this a first for Lasco, but it follows on in the footsteps of competitor Samsung who also sell their smartphones and accessories directly to customer at their Samsung Experience Stores in Half-Way-Tree and Montego Bay.

In fact, the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus has already launched in Jamaica and is being sold in this manner as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “How Next is Now for launch of Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus in Jamaica”.

Huawei isn't responding to Samsung's direct sale of their Samsung product to customers, as most of Samsung product and accessories at their flagship stores are overpriced. Rather this move is really to cut out the Telecom Provider as the middleman by selling unlocked smartphones at cheaper prices directly to customers.

There is now a strong demand for unlocked smartphones ever since MNP (Mobile Number Portability) became a reality on Monday June 22nd 2015 as reported in my blog article entitled “Number Portability now possible in Jamaica - How the NPA creates efficient Number Range Management as Third Telecom Provider Coming”.

Number Portability should have seen both Telecom Provider Digicel and FLOW (formerly LIME) selling unlocked smartphones as I'd predicted in my blog article entitled “MNP and LNP delayed to Monday June 22nd 2015 - Technical Problem is Customer Knowledge, Misdmatched Demographics and no Unlocked Quad-Band smartphones”.

Instead, the Telecom Providers have stubbornly refused to make their smartphones unlocked.

Huawei, seeing an opportunity to secure the smartphone market, has decided that a partnership with LASF to sell unlocked smartphones and accessories directly to customer was a huge opportunity waiting to be exploited.

Digicel and FLOW Jamaica not selling unlocked Dual-SIM smartphones - Market is open for Huawei and LASF

Sales of smartphones have been relatively quiet since the DL750, DL800 and DL900 burst on the scene in the Fourth Quarter of 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “JA$6,950 DL750 and JA$8,250 DL800 on Sale at Digicel – Alcatel One Touch Pop C1 as ZTE Force Awakens and Alcatel’s Empire Strikes Back”.

Both Telecom Providers have been selling handsets costing JA$5000 at a fairly brisk pace:

1.      JA$1.2 billion (US$10.2 million) in sales in March 2014 for FLOW Jamaica
2.      JA$1.9 billion (US$16 million) in sales in March 2015 for FLOW Jamaica
3.      JA$14.2 billion (US$120 million) in sales in March 2013 for Digicel Jamaica
4.      JA$16.7 billion (US$141 million) in sales in March 2015 for Digicel Jamaica

Digicel's sales have actually seen a decline by US$8 million in the Second Quarter of 2015 to US$26 million when compared to the Second Quarter of 2014 due to declining handset sales in El Salvador and Papua New Guinea.

Good to note that these sales include non-feature phones and feature phones e.g. Nokia 1208 cellphones. So these figures are inflated and aren’t mentioning smartphones and whether they’re unlocked or Dual-SIM.

To their credit, Digicel did sell a Dual-SIM smartphone albeit locked smartphone the Acer Liquid E700 as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel going Triple-SIM with Acer Liquid E700 smartphone”. 

Also, the Alcatel OneTouch Pop C2 has a dual-SIM version that Digicel can sell in Jamaica, if they so choose to counteract this move by Huawei and LASF as hinted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Why the Alcatel OneTouch Pop C2 will start the Dual-SIM revolution” 

So LASF and Huawei are partnering to conquer the as-yet untapped Dual-SIM and unlocked smartphone market, which is in need of low-cost options to the current competitors such as BLU Mobile. In the process, they may potentially force Telecom Provider Digicel and LIME to start selling unlocked smartphone as well come Christmas 2015.



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