Britain's Inmarsat moves into satellite phone market
Inmarsat, a leading provider of global satellite communication services, on Monday unveiled its first phone model in a bid to grab a slice of the increasingly affordable market.
The London-based company said at the launch of the IsatPhone Pro in Singapore that it hoped to grab a 10 percent share of the global handset market which it estimates is worth 350 million US dollars in wholesale revenue.
It aims to reach that goal by 2012 through an aggressive price plan, with sales driven by Europe and the United States, its key markets.
"It's an opportunistic play for us. Inmarsat has been the market leader in the mobile satellite sector for a long time but we've never been a serious contender in the hand-held market," said Helen Stalker, its commercial director for global satellite phone services.
Priced at 699 dollars and with usage expected to cost one dollar a minute, Inmarsat hopes its low-price point will capture a wider range of users beyond the sectors usually reliant on mobile satellite services.
They include government, media, oil and gas, aid and construction agencies, with most consumers unable to afford the high usage charges until now.
"We are targeting it to what we call the classic satellite phone users... but I think the price point will broaden its appeal to the lower end of the market as well," Stalker, who is overseeing the phone's launch, told AFP.
"So that includes the adventure group and the people who tend to be travelling and working abroad for a long period.
"We are entering the market because we see there are other players and maybe their futures are not so certain. With our products, you know it's a stable company and it's going to be operational for at least the next 10 years."
The device, which comes with voicemail, text messaging and GPS location data, will run globally over the Inmarsat-4 satellite that has a lifespan that will last until the 2020s.
© 2010 AFP