Mi-Fone sets sights on Dubai
Company plans mobile phone assembly, software customisation plant for UAE
Low-cost phone manufacturer, Mi-Fone, is planning to open a mobile phone assembly and software customisation factory here in the UAE, based in either Ras Al Khaimah or Jebel Ali.
Alpesh Patel CEO of Mi-Fone, told itp.net, that the plant will enable retailers and phone suppliers to get handsets manufactured by Mi-Fone, tailored to meet their local requirements by Mi-Fone engineers with local market understanding, and without having to travel to manufacturers in China.
Mi-Fone is currently meeting with potential investors and companies in Abu Dhabi to be able to go ahead with the planning and building of the factory. Patel estimates it will be six weeks before the company will be able to begin the first stages of planning and construction.
"Basically with the factory being here it will mean we will be able to deliver quicker to our customers. We will be properly ISO certified and solar powered. Not all of it will be solar powered, but most of it, we are harnessing what we have here," he said.
Patel has estimated that the factory will be up and running by September or October this year.
"It is going to take us a few months, three or four months to set it up, plus Ramadan, the summer heat, we have to take all that into consideration," said Patel.
Mi-Fone is currently working with chipset manufacturer Mediatek for its low-cost phones being sold in Africa. Mi-Fone is waiting to finalise the first stages of the factory before approaching them to work together in the Middle East.
"Stage one will give us a much better platform to then go and speak to the big guys, to say look, we have got this now, do you want to come in or not. It gives us a bit more bargaining power," said Patel.
Mi-Fone currently sells its range of handsets for $14 up to $80 depending on the features across 12 countries in Africa, including Nigeria and South Africa.
"Poor people also need a choice, so what we are doing, we are the only manufacturer that gives them a choice. For every two or three dollars, there is a phone for that person, whether it is a colour or a feature. What happens is between $14 to $15 and $70 to $80 we have probably got about 50 handsets," said Patel.
Mi-Fone targets those people at the very bottom of the earning pyramid, those that earn $200 a month or more and is hoping to bring this type of low-cost device into the Middle East.
The company has recently introduced a range of BlackBerry-type devices, with a QWERTY keyboard and a range of content and applications.
"This is where the future is going, it is not about the handset only, it is about what the handset can do for that person," said Patel.