By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Almost two years after its reentry into the U.S. wireless-phone market, Siemens unveiled a marketing initiative that will bolster its tiny U.S. market share by expanding its selection to eight models from two, tapping new price points, and adding a third GSM carrier — T-Mobile — to its customer roster.
Coinciding with the launch, the company announced a stepped-up promotional campaign that includes ads on three cable networks, including MTV, during the fourth quarter. The ad campaign might be continued into next year, the company said.
As it has in the past, Siemens will support its new products with print ads in markets where the phones are launched by carriers.
"These are our first phones with European, Asian and American versions," said Rudi Lamprecht, president of the board of Siemens Information and Communications Mobile Group.
Siemens is building up its U.S. portfolio now "to take advantage of a significant [increase] in the North American GSM market" now that carriers Cingular and AT&T are converting to GSM, said Bernt Klein, senior VP/GM for North America. Added Lamprecht, "The technology [in the U.S.] moved to our strategy [GSM]."
As part of its effort to increase its U.S. share, the company said it's establishing two phone-design centers to complement its San Diego R&D center.
The six new phones, although based on global platforms, were designed specifically for the U.S. market, reflected in large part in some model's dual-band 850/1,900MHz or 1,900MHz-only design. The top-end PocketPC phone, which operates on 1,900MHz U.S. networks and foreign 900MHz networks, is also exclusive to the United States.
Of the two phones previously available in the United States, only a dual-mode, dual-band TDMA/GSM hybrid marketed by AT&T Wireless was designed specifically for the country. The other phone, a triband GSM model, is marketed in multiple countries.
All new phones except the entry-level model are GPRS-equipped, and like their predecessors, they will be cobranded with the Siemens name and a carrier's name.
Expected prices start at less than $99 for a voice-centric model and range up to $549 for a PocketPC PDA-phone available now through AT&T Wireless (see TWICE, Oct. 28, p. 30). Another model is the color-screen S56, which will accept a digital-camera add-on said to be the world's first with integrated flash. The company's previously available phones have been offered by carriers at $99 and $149.
Some of the new phones are available now, with the last model — the S56 — due in the first quarter.
In other comments, Lamprecht said Siemens will remain in the handset market in order to offer carriers a total solution comprising handsets and infrastructure.
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