Freeman Cebu Business

Prices of gadgets to dive further in 2015

Ehda Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Technology and gadget retailers are expecting a more exciting 2015 as prices are seen to dive much lower with the entry of cheaper, yet competitive brands in the market.

However, such rosy projection for gadgets and tech-related products will get even rosier if the telecommunication companies will offer affordable and relaxed communication prices, specifically on internet connection and unlimited data packages.

Melanie Ng, chief finance officer of Ng Khai Development Corporation, the company that operates several technology-related retail and wholesale as well as technology solutions products, said that as the technology retailers have already been enjoying zero tariff, the battle now in taking advantage the hyper-active market lies in the competitive advantages of brands.

Lower prices for tablets, laptops, particular Personal Computers are expected in 2015, although it has already been declining in recent years.

According to Ng the year 2015 also is seen to generate more spending, compared to past years. She said gadgets or technology update has become a necessity for everybody. Most even own more than one.

Significantly, the need for people to use the cloud could also fuel the demand for laptop, tablets and even updated PCs.

Individuals and companies would all the more need to update their gadgets either to expand their capacity to be productive, among other reasons.

Meanwhile, as the demand for smartphones, and other mobile gadgets is continuously moving up, more Filipinos are expected to patronize locally-branded phones, as features are becoming closely similar than those high-end gadgets.

This could also make gadget and technology products cheaper compared to the imported brands.

Jun Yap, president and chief executive officer of Junrex Cellphones and Accessories, noted that sales for locally-branded gadgets like myPhone, StarMobile, CherryMobile, HappyPhone have moved up significantly, as these Filipino-owned branded phones and gadgets are becoming sophisticated that could compete with the high-end names.

As features of cheaply-priced gadgets are competitive with expensive brands, Yap said Filipino consumers are now more practical and opt for low-end phones rather than own an expensive gadget merely just for "status-symbol."

Yap said the demand for tablets and smartphones have since been growing due to affordability of prices.

Smartphone prices are pegged from P3,000 to P40,000.

StarMobile, a new local player of Android phones and tablets estimates that some 5.6 million smartphones with a total value of P57 billion will be sold this year. Last year, there were about 4.6 million smartphones sold valued at P41 billion.

The firm said in a press statement that Metro Cebu remains "strongest in the Visayas", with "consistently high demand" in the market for quality yet affordable mobile devices.

Tablet penetration in the Philippines, on the other hand, increased from six percent in 2012 to 14 percent in 2013, according first quarter 2013 research conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab in Southeast Asia & Oceania.

“There is a clear change in mobile data usage. Users now prefer instant messaging, social networking and video streaming,” said Afrizal Abdul Rahim, regional head for Ericsson ConsumerLab South East Asia & Oceania, in an earlier report.

Although these locally-branded gadgets are mostly made in China, existing users observed reliable quality, with phone features closely comparable to well-known high-end brands.

Yap said just like this year, 2015 will continue to surprise customers in terms of new models in mobile and other technology.

Yap hopes network providers will roll-out faster, reliable, high bandwidth data services connection to both postpaid and pre-paid subscribers.

Ng and Yap are both expecting that telcos will also roll out much reliable LTE (Long Term Evolution) infrastructure.

A study conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab for Southeast Asia and Oceana, it indicated that tablet penetration in the Philippines, increased from six percent in 2012 to 14 in the following year.

Ng added that although tablets, laptops, and even mobile phones are capable of working just like a PC, sales of desktop is still on the upstream, as household, corporations still need PC kind of capacity.

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