The rise of the cheap smartphone
As smartphones reach the masses, a host of vendors are eager to serve them
NEXT month Britons will have yet more smartphones to choose from, when devices from Wiko, a two-year-old French company, go on sale. Wiko will be hoping that its phones, which in France start at around 70, prove as popular across the Channel as at home. In 2013 nearly 7% of French first-time smartphone-buyers plumped for a Wiko, says Carolina Milanesi of Kantar Worldpanel, a research firm. In early 2014 the firm claims to have been the second-biggest vendor in France.
Wiko is not alone. In both rich countries and poor ones, cheaper smartphone brands are making inroads. Demand for pricey phones, mainly in developed economies, is slowing, but that for less expensive devices is booming. People buying their first smartphones today, perhaps to replace a basic handset, care less about the brand and more about price than the richer, keener types of a few years ago.
They are likely to pay less for a nice new smartphone than they did for their shabby old device, because the cost of making smartphones has tumbled. Vendors can buy standardised processors which chip designers such as America's Qualcomm, the market leader, and competitors such as Taiwan's MediaTek or China's Spreadtrum are scrapping furiously to provide in ever-rising quality at ever-lower prices. They choose cameras, screens and so forth to wrap aroun英语听力