By John Irish
The UK-based mobile manufacturer eyes opportunity to break into the established regional mobile phone market.
Mobile phone users will now have an alternative to household names such as Nokia after Sendo, a UK-based cell phone manufacturer, yesterday (February 24) announced plans to turn its attention to the Middle East market.The expansion, which will see the opening of offices in Dubai, follows an increase in regional sales over the last year and includes a distribution deal with the UAE’s largest mobile distributor, MyFono. “The mobile phone market in the Middle East is technically advanced but far from saturated,” said Bahige Takieddine, regional general manager, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and CIS. “This gives Sendo a great opportunity to build and extend its presence and brand. By opening an office, Sendo shows its commitment to the region.”The small telecommunications company aims to sell over a million handsets in the Middle east in the first nine months of 2003 and is hoping to take a 3-4% share of the regional market outlining Samsung, Sony Eriksson and Alcatel as its main competition. It will initially concentrate on making local distributors aware of its product features before launching any marketing initiatives directed at the general public. “Clearly there is enough room for Sendo, the market is growing globally and we’re not looking for 50% market share. We don’t need to sell tens of millions of telephones to have a good business,” said Thomas Leliveld, director of commercial operations.Sendo will be attempting to play on the fact that its mobiles are Arabic enabled and fully customisable, something that Leliveld claims Nokia is not able to offer. However, it is perhaps the company’s bust-up with software giant Microsoft that may stand it in good stead for the future.The two companies had formed a partnership to develop smart mobile phones that offered a wide range of internet-related services, but in October 2002, their relationship ended after another Microsoft partner released a smart phone device based on Sendo’s own ‘Stinger’ system. The mobile manufacturer claimed that the product ‘plundered’ its intellectual property, propriety hardware expertise and trade secrets by providing information to Microsoft partners.Although the issue is still in the hands of the law courts and Sendo officials did not wish to be drawn on the issue, the high-profile association with Microsoft may well aid it in developing its brand name throughout the Middle East.