Is Dual-SIM (2G+3G) mobiles the next gold rush?

The dual SIM mobile phone which was first launched by Spice and was later caught the fancy of Indians is now a very important category. This category is hard to be neglected category and Nokia has realized it late – little too late to its liking.  Upstarts like Micromax and Spice found a prominent place in the top 5 list by selling dual SIM phones for the most part.

To emphasize the dual SIM category, close to 90% of the phones launched by Micromax are dual SIM mobiles (GSM+GSM or GSM+CDMA). Spice Mobiles paints a similar picture. Supertron and Jaipan will follow the same route too. Audio cassette maker, T Series, which entered the mobile phone category has launched 13 mobile phones. Guess what? All of them are dual SIM mobile phones.

We might have to sit out this quarter and probably the next quarter because not all companies are rolling out their 3G services. Tata DoCoMo is the only player to roll out its 3G services. Airtel came out with a new branding and logo for its 3G launch, but not yet launched the actual services. Aircel and Reliance gave Q1 2011 as the likely launch dates. Other players will follow suit. The quarter of April-Jun, 2011 would be an interesting quarter.

Without waiting for the next two quarters data, few trends are already visible. 3G-Touch screen-Android phones are the most sought after phones, which are followed by 3G-QWERTY phones. Also phones in the price ranges of Rs. 5K-10K and Rs. 10K-15K is the most crowded segment.

The most important trend – which would probably be neglected by the global majors like QT95 Nokia, Samsung and Motorola – is the Dual SIM category. Dual SIM in this context will have to accommodate a 3G SIM and a 2G SIM. 3G SIM will be used to take advantage of the 3G offerings and 2G would be used either to keep the existing number of use many offers thrown by umpteen 2G operators. The category would be a hot category even with the impending launch of mobile number portability. The only thing which would keep the dual-SIM (3G+2G) category at bay would be the price.

Spice, which already has a head start has launched country’s first 3G+2G phones. Spice’s QT68 costs Rs.4999 and sports a QWERTY keyboard. Spice QT95 costs Rs. 5499 and has a front-facing camera to facilitate video calling. Both the phones are in the 5K range. If someone has to launch a dual-SIM (3G+2G) phone they have to answer two questions? Would it cost less than Spice’s mobile? Would it provide anything extra for the same cost?

Manufacturers might be tempted to bring out Dual SIM with 3G+3G category but that would be futile. There isn’t much competition in the 3G space as there are only 3 operators in each circle (excluding BSNL+MTNL). A dual SIM with 3G+2G SIM’s is a category to watch out for. Who will be left out of this race? Let’s wait and see.

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