It’s the first local brand to start assembly of phones here
While there’s a ton of local brands in the Philippines, it’s an open secret that none of the phones are made, or even assembled in the Philippines. Local brands follow the original design manufacturer (ODM) business model, where they buy pre-built phones that are then customized to their specifications for sale in our country.
Starmobile is one such local brand that follows the same business model, but they’ve taken steps that will someday lead them to production independence if all goes well. Their parent company, Star Telecom Alliance Resources, Inc. (STAR, Inc.), has just announced the start of mobile phone production efforts in the Philippines as it starts assembly of 20,000 units of the UNO B208 featurephone in a facility in Calamba, Laguna. This makes STAR, Inc. and subsequently, Starmobile, the first ever local brand to open a phone factory here in the Philippines.
“Since we started five years ago, it has been the company’s goal to contribute to the local economy and provide employment by assembling phones in the Philippines,” said Starmobile COO Michael Chen. “Aside from bringing us a step closer to our dream of building up the Philippines an important player in the global tech scene, this will also benefit our bottom line, as it will result in more cost and time-efficient logistics and shipment around the country. In addition, because we will have parts and an assembly facility locally, we expect this to improve our after-sales support for our customers.”
There are a few caveats here, most notably, the phones are simply assembled here, and not made in the Philippines. Our country still don’t have the manufacturing capability to produce many of the essential parts that are needed for smartphones, including mass produced circuit boards, LCDs, batteries and other parts. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day – with increasing labor costs in China, even in Shenzen which has long been the electronics manufacturing heaven in the country, companies are now looking for greener pastures down the road.
The assembly of featurephones may not be cutting edge, but given enough time (and sales) that may lead to assembly of smartphones for the local market. It’s interesting to see STAR, Inc.’s optimism in our country’s local manufacturing capabilities – let’s hope this effort pays off for Filipino consumers in the long run.