Celcom, the oldest mobile communications company in Malaysia and claims to have the widest and most extensive coverage nationwide with dual-band GSM (900/1800 MHz) coverage of 97% of Malaysian population, has finally announced its Apple iPhone 4 offering today. Its CEO Shazalli Ramly who claimed that Celcom Axiata has over 2 million (about 20% of its customer base) smartphone users currently, is targeting 30% smartphone users by year end, with the iPhone 4 offering.
Starting at RM248 for 16GB and RM538 for 32GB model, people are asking if Celcom’s entry into the hot iPhone game is a little bit too late considering the other two players namely Maxis and DIG.com have already reaping good profits many moons ago with their iPhone offerings. But Celcom firmly believes (really?) that being late is better than never. Known to be loyal offering of BlackBerry, obviously Celcom couldn’t hide the fact that iPhone demands is so freaking hot that it would be stupid to ignore the gadget.
Sure, Celcom CEO Shazalli tried to justify the (mistakenly) late entry by claiming that Celcom wanted to ensure that its infrastructure was at an optimum level before finally launching the smartphone. He also claims the company also revamped its call centers to be more iPhone-centric (was he born yesterday that he didn’t know there were many models of iPhone such as 3GS before iPhone 4?). He should just admit they did a bad decision-making in ignoring iPhone market altogether, until today.
Anyway, the iPhone 4 pricing packages revealed by Celcom are applicable for Executive users only. Normal consumers have to wait for price rates sometime next month. Now, let’s look at what Celcom iPhone 4 pricing looks like. It seems Celcom’s packages are extremely attractive. The lowest plan is Celcom Biz Pi98 with commitment of RM98 while the top plan is Celcom Biz Pi248 with commitment of RM248 per month.
Now, those who wait patiently for Celcom’s iPhone would be rewarded handsomely. The lowest plan or RM98 comes with 100 mins call to other network while you can call within Celcom network for a staggering 6,000 mins – that’s 100 hours of free talk. Compare this with Maxis iValue-1 (commitment RM100) which offers 333 mins of local calls while call to other network is chargable at RM0.15 / min, obviously Celcom is the clear winner here, not even DIGI.com’s iDIGI 88 or iDIGI 138 can compete with Celcom’s offering.
And we’ve not even talk about the data offering – Celcom’s entry RM98 plan comes with 2GB free data, far better than Maxis iValue 1 plan’s 1GB. As for SMS and MMS, Celcom Biz Pi98 comes with 200 SMS and 20 MMS, same as Maxis’s iValue-1 and DIGI.com’s iDIGI 88. However Celcom’s plan didn’t specify the extra charge after monthly quota, that’s if you use more than 2GB with Celcom Biz Pi98 plan. On this part, DIGI.com which offers zero charge (internet within Malaysia, to be precise) after exceeding monthly quota is the clear winner.
Celcom’s other plans such as Celcom Biz Pi148 (commitment of RM148) and Celcom Biz Pi248 (commitment of RM248) that comes 250 mins and 500 mins inter-network calls plus 4GB and 6GB data respectively also blows away its competitors. In fact, the main juice in Celcom’s iPhone 4 plans is in the free 6,000 mins for calls within its network. While many existing iPhone subscribers from Maxis will tell you that somehow you’ll definitely end up paying more than your plan simply because you would be charged the moment you start calling another friend from another network, you should take some comforts that you would have free 100 mins (Celcom Biz Pi98) to do so if you subscribe to Celcom.
In terms of iPhone 4 price, Celcom is charging RM1,438 (Celcom Biz Pi98) for a 16GB iPhone 4 for 12-months contract, compared to Maxis’s RM1,590. If you opt for 24-months for the same iPhone spec and plan, the phone costs you RM1,148 which is still cheaper than Maxis’s RM1,290. Like it or not Celcom has just brought the smartphone price war to another level, at least in the case of iPhone. And didn’t I say don’t sign for contract more than 12-months because the prices would change for sure *grin*?
Although Celcom is late into the iPhone market, it’s packages are extremely attractive so much so that I’m wondering if its objective in throwing such goodies was to create chaos to its competitors. Existing iPhone subscribers would not be able to jump ship to Celcom because of their existing contracts. Those who really want to own the iPhone 4 have already done so and are either with Maxis or DIGI. Celcom’s market would be those existing die-hard fans who would rather jump from 88th floor of KLCC than to change operator.
Considering Apple Inc. would likely to release the much awaited iPhone 5 in Sept rather than June / July this year, Celcom’s iPhone 4 launching may not be that too late after all. Obviously those who’ve been waiting for Celcom’s iPhone 4 are laughing now. Celcom knew they would buy nevertheless. And to those who’ve subscribe to a 12-month contract with either Maxis (such as me) or DIGI when the iPhone 4 was launched in the country, by the time iPhone 5 is available, it’s time to either upgrade your iPhone 4 to iPhone 5, or simply to jump ship to Celcom.
Nevertheless, Maxis and DIGI would not sit silently with the latest assault from Celcom Axiata. Celcom made the right decision in bringing the iPhone as another option to its existing customers who may jump ship to either Maxis or DIGI.com, sooner or later. It was a business decision to increase its revenue from voice-centric to data-centric, something that Maxis and DIGI.com are doing now with great success. Celcom may hates bringing iPhone and in the process abandoning its lover BlackBerry but business sense talks volume at the end of the day.
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