MANILA, Philippines – The estimate for mobile phone users in the Philippines is about 70 million. This is nearly 80 percent of the country’s population, which is hitting 91 million.
But many Filipinos actually own more than one handset that use one of the three major mobile communications providers.
While some Filipinos consider having more than one handset as a form of lifestyle, others see it as a practical approach to save on costs in using unlimited text and call promotions offered by mobile services providers.
Since the majority of mobile phone owners are prepaid subscribers, there is no specific count as to the actual number of mobile phone owners over the present population.
Still, there is a growing business for dual SIM phones; mobile devices that have two slots for SIM (subscriber identification module) cards, thereby allowing access to preferred mobile networks.
Dual SIM phones essentially take away the need to have more than one phone.
The past two years have seen a growth in dual SIM phones. Most are units made by Chinese manufacturers but a few are also established brands, such as Samsung, LG, Acer, among others.
One company that is trying to cut a niche into the dual SIM business is Chinese firm Torque. The company has been expanding its market in the Philippines amid fierce competition from other brands, such as Cherry Mobile, Verzio, and MyScreen.
Chris Uyco, CEO of Topstrasse, which distributes Torque phones locally, predicts about 30 percent of the current market penetration for the entire mobile handset business would be captured by dual SIM phones.
“Twenty million dual SIM phones will be sold over the next three to five years,” Uyco said.
Uyco explained that having a single device that connects to two networks is the major appeal of dual SIM phones, especially when users have contacts that are using either one of the networks.
“Add to this the abundance of call and text promos being offered by the three network carriers that encouraged subscribers to maintain not just one but two or even three mobile sim cards at the same time, thus enabling them to constantly keep in touch,” Uyco said.
While he does not deny the prominence of the more established mobile handset makers among Filipinos, dual SIM phones is becoming more popular among entry-level phone owners due to convenience of using one device, as well as the relatively lower cost of dual SIM phones.
A typical entry-level dual SIM phone cost between P2,000 and P3,000. Higher end phones cost P5,000 but these could have added features such as built-in TV receivers or video players.
Uyco said the goal for dual SIM phones, including Torque, should be to give ＆#118alue-for-money for existing, budget-conscious buyers and first-time mobile phone owners.