Alcatel Flash Plus hits Malaysian market with Lazada tie-up
By Edwin Yapp August 25, 2015
- Partners Lazada to enhance time-to-market, brand presence
- Smartphone targets budget-conscious, few innovative features
ALCATEL Mobile Phones, a division of China’s TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd, has launched its latest smartphone, the Alcatel Flash Plus, in a bid to re-introduce its brand presence and product portfolio in the Malaysian market, according to company officials.
The Alcatel Flash Plus will be sold in partnership with Lazada Malaysia as part of an online-only, exclusive dealership Alcatel has inked with the Rocket Internet SE-owned e-commerce provider in Malaysia.
Alcatel is touting the new device as an affordable smartphone targeted at the budget-conscious mass market. Priced at RM549 (US$130), it is aimed particularly at young people and the college-going crowd, or the 18-24-year-old demographic, company officials said at the launch in a mall in Petaling Jaya earlier today (Aug 25).
As part of the exclusive deal between Lazada and Alcatel, consumers who pre-order the smartphone between Aug 25 and Sept 7 will be able to purchase the device for RM499 (US$117), after which the price will be fixed at the above RM549.
“Consumers are always looking out for the best in mobile technology,” said Lazada Malaysia chief executive officer Hans-Peter Ressel. “We are very excited to partner with Alcatel to bring the Flash Plus to Malaysia.”
Yogi Babria, e-commerce operations director at Alcatel Asia Pacific, said the tie-up with Lazada is part of an ongoing strategy to broaden its appeal and brand presence with Malaysian consumers.
“We were looking to distribute our products through the web and we decided to partner Lazada as it’s a regional e-commerce player,” he said. “Lazada also has presence in the markets Alcatel is in, so the fit was natural.”
Asked why Alcatel has been somewhat muted in Malaysia in the past few years, Babria acknowledged this shortcoming, saying that traditionally, it launched its phones via operators rather than on the open channel marketplace.
“Alcatel’s strength has always been where our handsets are operator-driven,” he said.
“For instance, we’ve done very well in the Philippines where our smartphones are well accepted because of the strong operator-driven ecosystem.
“Unfortunately, we’ve not been that strong in the open channel market,” Babria acknowledged.
Alcatel Malaysia country manager K.L. Kong said that in Malaysia, the company has been working with Digi Bhd and Celcom Axiata Bhd as part of its operator collaboration.
However, he conceded that the company needs to be better at working in the open channel market.
Pressed further as to how Alcatel plans to tackle this challenge head-on, Babria said it’s important for it to re-create a strong brand presence first before trying to go into the open retail market.
“This is part of our strategy – to reintroduce our brand to the market via our partnership with an e-commerce name like Lazada and create a desire for our product first,” he said.
“It’s no point pushing inventory onto our resellers and dealers and be active for a short time, and not have the staying power,” he added.
Also, developing the channel distributorship takes time and so this strategy allows Alcatel to bide its time, Babria said.
Kong added, “It’s hard to tell right now but we can’t disclose our targets. For now we are going to take it slow and do the right thing, which includes building up our base before going further.”
Asked how successful Alcatel thinks this campaign will be given that competition in this market is very tight, Babria said he believes that the Alcatel Flash Plus has what it takes to compete in the market, and will be a success.
“We’ve launched this smartphone in other markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, and we’ve seen good success in these markets,” he declared, without giving numbers.
“We believe that given the affordability of the product and the earning power of Malaysians, the Flash Plus will be well received,” he added.
The Alcatel Flash Plus
The Alcatel Flash Plus is powered by a 1.5GHz MediaTek 64-bit octa-core chip, and comes with a 5.5-inch IPS HD 720 x 1280 display. It comes equipped with 2GB RAM and 16MB storage that is expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card.
It sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with focal length of f2.2 and a wide angle (84 deg) 8-megapixel front camera, aimed particularly at those who like to take selfies.
The 147g Alcatel Flash Plus supports dual SIM and comes with a whopping 3,500mAH battery that boasts of more than 12 hours’ usage time.
Some of its more innovative features include voice-activated front camera shot; Alcatel’s ‘picture-in-picture technology,’ a feature that allows the rear camera to take the background while the front camera is used for selfies; and multi-shot photography for taking up to 20 pictures in three seconds.
It also includes ‘Smart Gestures,’ a feature that allows users to preset gestures for quick access to apps – for example, drawing the gesture ‘C’ on the display to call up the camera app or ‘E’ for email or ‘W’ for WhatsApp.
But perhaps the standout feature is its multi-radio chipset that supports both FD-LTE (Frequency Division Long Term Evolution) and TD-LTE (Time Division Long Term Evolution).
Specifically, the Alcatel Flash Plus supports LTE band 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 38 (2600Mhz), 39 (1900Mhz), 40 (2300MHz), and 41 (2500Mhz).
This means that the smartphone could theoretically support TD-LTE players, which include Telekom Malaysia-owned Packet One Networks as well as YTL Communications Sdn Bhd.
Quizzed as to whether Alcatel Malaysia is working with either P1 of the above companies, Alcatel’s Kong admitted that it has been in discussions with the two telco providers but declined to say more.
“At present, and at least for the Alcatel Flash Plus, we are in an exclusive distributorship with Lazada,” he said.
“But we’re definitely in talks to possibly provide other handsets to them but it will depend on the specifications they give to us.”
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