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Mobile firm to bundle service with new Samsung S3 phone

Mobile operator Cellcard will bundle services with the Samsung S3 and other devices from the Korean technology company, a strategy uncommon in emerging markets, analysts say.

The Samsung phones and tablets included in the deal would come with a discounted service package including free internet and free texting, Cellcard said.

The packaging reflects AT&T and iPhone bundling in the US, except that the Samsung phones would not be sold at a reduced price.

Devices could be paid for in instalments, the company said yesterday.

Hello Mobile had offered bundled services with Blackberry handsets and Khmer-language phones, the company’s marketing director, Rozy Laxana, said yesterday.

The company has purchased devices and resold them on post-paid plans, as well as provided SIM cards for devices, she said.

“From our past experience, we found [purchasing the devices] to be more effective for our business model as it generates very positive acquisition volumes and stimulates usage,” Laxana said.

She added, however, that heavy competition from grey-market phones had made the plans unpopular.

Bundling in emerging markets such as Cambodia was uncommon, as operators had not wanted to subsidise the price of phones or cultivate customers on credit-based payments, Shiv Putcha, principal analyst for emerging markets at the London-based research firm Ovum, said.

“I see this as a hybrid approach,” he said, referring to Cellcard’s plan.

“Reverse bundling is becoming more common in emerging markets, as operators don’t want to subsidise the cost of the device.

This is tied closely to the lack of credit rating and the low penetration of credit and debit cards . . . so it is very difficult to collect money in the future.”

More mobile operators were trying so-called “reverse bundling”, in which the selling point was the cost of the service as opposed to the cost of the device, Putcha said.

Pre-paid service would live on in emerging markets even with an increase in bundling, he said, because operators preferred the predictable cash flow associated with pre-payment.

All Samsung S3s would come with the pre-paid Cellcard service, although users could switch to other operators – another divergence from Western-style bundle packages – Kay Lot, Cellcard’s chief operations officer, said yesterday.

No release date for the S3 has been announced in Cambodia, although Samsung’s regional director told the Post this month it phone would be available here before July.

The S3 hit Phnom Penh’s markets in early June, the Post reported. Electronics shops had jumped the official gun, importing the phones from countries where they were already available.

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at



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