Malaysian vendor taps Saudi base, targets Iran

M.Mobile to establish Saudi assembly plant in bid to expand regional presence.

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By  Ronan Shields Published  November 12, 2006

Malaysian handsET vendor M Dot Mobile (M.Mobile) has confirmed plans to open a US$3 million manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia and secure new channel distribution deals in Iran. While M.Mobile is yet to officially finalise its plans for the region, sources inside the company revealed that the Saudi manufacturing plant was “virtually a done deal”, involving Jeddah-based network provider SatJed. The manufacturing plant will enable the company to expand its product portfolio to include third generation (3G) devices, which will be rolled out in the region over the next two years. M.Mobile chairman Norhamzah Nordin predicted that the company’s expansion in the Middle East would enable it to sell more than one million handsets worldwide in 2007, boosting revenue by as much as US$70 million. Since launching its M1 model at GITEX 2005, M.Mobile has sold more than 60,000 units in the Middle East and has continued to expand its presence by striking up global partnerships. Nordin predicted that the company’s array of handsets boasting Islamic applications would pave the way for its success in the Middle East. He also estimated that the region could ultimately account for 75% of M.Mobile’s total handset sales worldwide, with the remaining quarter being derived from its domestic market. “The government in Iran intends to boost the country’s cellular subscription base from five million to 30m,” he claimed. “Therefore, we are confident that this market alone will provide us with opportunities for growth in the Middle East.” Nordin revealed that M.Mobile had secured a development and distribution deal with internet telephony provider, Mobalex Malaysia, which will enable the company to expand the range of Islamic-orientated applications it offers in its next-generation handsets. Mobalex Malaysia will also distribute M.Mobile’s leveraging its network of more than 125 agents worldwide. The agreement will enable M.Mobile to include Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) technology enabling seamless Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) access, in its new range of handsets. Nordin also revealed that M.Mobile planned to produce the world’s first fully integrated SIP mobile phone. The new technology will enable users to dial direct to any international number via their existing data channel at low tariff rates. “With SIP, users will be able to make free calls to other M.Mobile phone users wherever they may be around the globe, while the cost of international calls to non-M.Mobile phones will be much lower than competing services currently available on the market,” he claimed. “We plan to launch the new M.Mobile SIP handsets in Malaysia in the first quarter of 2007.” M.Mobile’s forthcoming M10 Hajj, M20 and M25 handsets will also feature new Islamic prayer applications. The handsets are also scheduled for release in the Middle East in early-2007. Mobalex CTO Alexander Lang claimed the company could successfully expand its business catering to niche markets. “You only have to look at Apple’s iPod to see the explosive growth that can result when niche technologies are made available to consumers in a simple and elegant fashion,” he said. “We are not competing with the big boys. That’s why we are into the niche market,” added Nordin. M.Mobile is a partnership between Malaysia’s Mobile Knight and Kosmo Technology, with the former maintaining a 70% stakehold.

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