Smartphone strategies - Tech News | The Star Online

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Smartphone strategies TECH NEWS

Monday, 30 Jun 2014 By Susanna Khoo

KEEP TRACK: Praveen Rajan showing how DiGi customers can monitor their data usage via the MyDiGi app.

DESPITE the incredible range of options for smartphones and mobile Internet plans out there, most consumers end up deciding on what they want based on a few simple factors. “Consumers don’t buy phones in the same way that manufacturers are marketing them,” says Praveen Rajan, head of Internet and services for product marketing at DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd. “They are usually only focused on a few variables such as screen size and the availability of their favourite apps.” He says that it also the case when it comes to selecting data plans — consumers seek out plans that provide them with the Internet connection they need to enjoy the apps of their choosing. Besides this, Praveen also points out that many Malaysian consumers tend to change their smartphones very often. “The rate of replacement of smartphones is still relatively high. The prepaid market is showing a lot of activity right now. The fact that Android smartphones are now being priced very competitively is driving this rate of replacement,” he explains. Cost is king In general, Praveen says prepaid customers tend to be most concerned about overspending whereas the postpaid market operates a little differently, as customers are more confident about committing more to their data plan as they know they can afford it. Meanwhile, those subscribing to postpaid packages tend to make their choice based on discounts they can receive on the mid-range to high-end devices that they desire to own. “It’s always about affordability,” says Jasmine Lee, chief marketing officer at U Mobile Sdn Bhd. “For prepaid users, the entry point is RM30 and for postpaid subscribers, it’s around RM50.” She too agrees that consumers normally have their eyes on devices first before considering what telco services they will sign up for. Based on a quarterly discussion the company had with Google, she says that around 90% of online searches for mobile Internet begin with devices first. With regards to the pricing of smart devices, she is of the opinion that most consumers will hesitate when it comes to anything that costs above RM1,500. “The ones buying new gadgets are mostly the younger generation and they would have a problem with anything more expensive,” Lee says. Making room for everyone In response to the market trends, telcos have begun to tailor their products and services to fit within the limitations that are faced by consumers. This is especially crucial for companies like U Mobile, as a large segment of its customer base is between the ages of 18 to 35. “As most of them are high data users, we work with manufacturers to subsidise the cost of the phone to make it more affordable for them,” says Lee. U Mobile, like its other competitors, also offers other perks such as unlimited data while roaming, loyalty programme and insurance coverage in order to attract more customers. Upfront payments have also been removed for device bundles — this allows consumers to purchase a device and data plan without the need to fork out advance payments for their monthly fees. Other telcos, like Celcom, have removed the time limit attached to the data allocations it provides for several of its subscription plans. For example, its XPax Chat and Social plans offer 50MB and 150MB data, respectively, and there is no expiration date for the quota given so a consumer can take his or her time to use up the data as desired. Celcom also no longer segments its customers into postpaid or prepaid, says Zalman Zainal, its chief marketing officer. “We use brands,” he explains. “We also offer both prepaid and postpaid options for products within the same category. Your payment option shouldn’t lock in the plan that you take.” This applies to the Celcom First range of plans, which the company is targeting at professionals and more mature mobile data users. Subscribers to these plans can opt for either a postpaid or prepaid mode for their account. Meanwhile, Maxis Bhd has introduced free basic Internet connectivity to its Hotlink prepaid customers at 64Kbps (kilobits per second) “as long as the prepaid plan remains active.” Providing daily and weekly data top-ups is another route that is being taken by most telcos here. This allows customers the option of getting a temporary boost to their typical monthly quota during times when their usage exceeds the norm. “You have the option to buy more for a specific time period and you don’t have to commit to that extra amount every month,” says Praveen from DiGi. “This gives customers flexibility and helps them stay connected.” He notes that most mobile Internet subscribers have become more sophisticated now and have started downloading apps to keep track of their data usage. Leaping into LTE Malaysia has been quick to embrace 4G LTE networks. Telcos have been upgrading their networks ever since the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) allocated the 2,600MHz band for LTE back in December 2012. “By the end of 2014, the operators shall provide at least 20% population coverage of its service using the 2.6GHz band,” says Datuk Mohd Ali Hanafiah, chief industry development officer at MCMC. “With 4G LTE services, consumers can enjoy download speeds of up to 10x faster than 3G,” claims Dushyan Vaithiyanathan, head of consumer business at Maxis. However, not every consumer is convinced of the need for a 4G LTE connection for the time being, as the devices that can take advantage of the faster connection are still pricey. But even as 4G LTE coverage continues to expand over the course of this year, Praveen from DiGi believes that it will not necessarily result in an immediate increase in overall Internet consumption that some may expect. “It’s not an overnight thing. Consumers will still have the same behaviour initially, and they aren’t going to use more data just because the service has improved,” he says. Related stories: The Net in your pocket Digitally driven

TAGS / KEYWORDS:

Science Technology , LTE , Mobile , Networks , Data Plans , Smartphones , Devices , Tablets , Phablets , Telcos , Malaysia , Consumption , Prepaid , Postpaid

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Smartphone strategies - Tech News | The Star Online

Smartphone strategies TECH NEWS Monday, 30 Jun 2014 By Susanna Khoo KEEP TRACK: Praveen Rajan showing how DiGi customers can monitor their data usag...

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