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Samsung, Nokia get a Chinese rival

Calcutta, Sept. 10: Bird Ningbo, the Chinese cellphone major, is set to launch its Bird range of GSM mobile phones in India. The company will compete with the likes of Nokia and Samsung.

The phones, which Bird claims to be the slimmest in the world, range from Rs 5,999 to Rs 12,999. An exclusive ladies model studded with diamonds costs Rs 14,999. In December, an entry range model costing Rs 4,999, will be launched along with a PDA (personal digital assistance) carrying voice, data and video in the Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 range.

Bird, which sold 7 million units in China last year, expects to sell 35,000 units in the country by March next year. “In 2004, we have set a target to sell two to three lakh units,” said Jean-Alexis Chatelain, director of Bird International. “We are also actively looking at the CDMA market in India and phones in this category will be launched in January.” Bird has tied up with Agrani Convergence for distribution in India.

Agrani, an Essel Group company, will establish a network of stores to market Bird phones. It will also provide after sales service.

Chinese companies are looking at India as it offers huge growth potential. “India is the next big mobile market after China, where the demand is around 60 million phones every year,” adds Chatelain. “It is a strategic market for manufacturers.”

Chatelain, however, feels that the market does not justify setting up a manufacturing unit. “We already have a facility in China with a capacity of 25 million phones annually. We are in the process of setting up two more facilities that will enhance our capacity to 60 million phones per annum,” he said.

Bird will set up its first offshore telecom software development facility in Bangalore next year. “The hardware component will be sourced out of China, while the software component will be developed in India,” he added.

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