Roadshows had been going on feverishly for the last weekend and it will probably continue to be so. For those who have not renewed their plans, this is probably the best time to get a good bargain. Of course, before heading down to your friendly roadshow, do give your operator a call for that extra $50 or $100 voucher for being such a loyal customer *and* at the same time, enjoy the great discounts that the telcos are giving.

I am not sure about you, but looking at this is making me salivate.

Now that I am done with the tenderizing, let’s get down to the economics of things. So, what happens if your contract hasn’t expired and you want to get your hands on that Diamond (HTC Diamond, I mean) or that Prada (LG Prada, that is)? There’s always the same old trade of paying for someone to renew their contracts plus tips. Yes, tips. Anything else would make it sound almost illegal.

Of course, in situations like this, the happier people will be the owners-to-be. The not-so-happy ones will be the current owners, where their resale value of their phone dropped almost by 50% overnight. But trust me, this probably won’t last long as long as you (the current owners who are dying to get rid of their phones) just keep it for a while longer before putting it up on HWZ or eBay – long enough such that the offers are no longer there, but not so long until it’s no longer desirable to own it.

Anyway, what’s in a phone? Isn’t it just to make phone calls, take pictures, play MP3s, play 3gps, act as a GPS, pretend to be an organizer…

Telcos slash prices for even the hottest cellphones

By Alfred Siew, Technology Correspondent

TWO weeks into the latest round of competition in the cellphone market and already customers are turning out to be the big winners.

All three telcos here are slashing prices for even the latest and most-wanted cellphones by as much as $600, in a bid to woo and retain customers.

Usually, telcos offer customers subsidies of about $300-$400 for mobile phones, but now, such subsidies have almost doubled in some cases.

SingTel, for example, priced the HTC Touch Diamond at $498 with a two-year plan – less than half its retail price of $1,098 – when the phone first launched about two weeks ago. At that time, StarHub’s price for the phone, the hot gizmo of the moment, was $598 while MobileOne sold it for $698.

The following week, both StarHub and M1 slashed their prices to match SingTel’s rate.

The HTC phone, which lets users navigate menus by sliding their fingers along the screen a la the Apple iPhone, has sold out at many cellphone stores in the past two weeks.

The ‘street battles’ between the three telcos started building up right before full number portability kicked in on June 13.

Though users have not been rushing to switch telcos at the get-go, the fact that the new rules allow them to do so and still keep their numbers means telcos are being forced to work harder to retain subscribers.

Experts say the competition will intensify when other popular phones are launched here, such as Samsung’s Omnia, which hit the shelves last week.

This much-awaited iPhone alternative usually costs just over $1,000 but telcos were offering it for $500 to $600 last week, if bundled with a contract.

All three cellphone operators here said they have seen encouraging turnouts at recent roadshows, but declined to reveal sales figures.

All three claimed to have signed up ‘switchers’ and also re-contracted existing users.

Analysts say the number of people switching from one telco to another may be small – 5 per cent to 15 per cent in the first year – but that does not mean consumers are not benefiting from the tougher competition.

Senior analyst Soh Siow Meng from Current Analysis said: ‘The fact that we are seeing new marketing strategies from telcos means they are competing hard for the consumer’s dollar.’

He predicts these price wars will go on for a few months before things start to stabilise once people sign new phone contracts.

One user who is waiting for the price wars to play out is manager Loh Wei Loong, 32, who said: ‘Phones have been way too expensive here, and this price war is surely a boon to consumers.’

siewtha@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Prime%2BNews/Story/STIStory_253076.html

Article extracted on 30th June 2008



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