Samart shifts focus to services, plans relaunch of iMobile in March

samart imobile

Thailand’s Samart group has refocused itself as part of the Thailand 4.0 initiative, shunning its traditional iMobile phone shops and instead concentrating on FinTech and its MVNO operations.

The group has targeted sales of at least $564 million (20 billion baht) in 2017.

Samart CEO Wattanachai Vilailuck said that many changes were coming as part of the government’s Thailand 4.0 and Digital Economy initiatives.

Samart i-Mobile, a major phone vendor, will now focus on value added services, and sales are expected to fall to just one million units from many millions in previous years as telcos become more active in selling directly in the market.

The new i-Mobile will be formally launched in March, and Wattanachai promised it would be a golden year with major deals to be signed with government agencies (telcos). The group will also focus on FinTech and its e-commerce platform.

Optimism aside, things could hardly get worse for i-Mobile. According to telecoms consultancy Yozzo, Samart i-Mobile and all the CAT MVNOs together currently have a mere 100,000 subscribers between them in a market of 90.9 million.

The Samart group has targeted ICT solutions at $25.4 million (9 billion baht).

Recently, Samart announced it had set up a new subsidy, Zecure Asia, to become a local partner to sell the Blackphone 2 smartphone to security-conscious business users in Thailand. The phone runs a customized privacy-focused version of Android.

Responding to news of the Blackphone 2 launch on Twitter, Bangkok security researcher @theGrugq was not impressed.

Ironically, for someone selling secure email devices, Samart itself has almost a thousand email messages all over Wikileaks (although most were mundane emails chasing up payment), as the company was a reseller for weaponized malware vendor HackingTeam. In July 2015, HackingTeam was hacked and over 400GB of data, including the malware itself and emails, was dumped.

In 2013, Samart sold a $375,000 contract to the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Corrections for smartphone infection and interception of Line, Skype and Whatsapp, as well as SMS and calls. Another project was army intelligence through the National Security Council. This was in 2013 when the current Prime Minister Prayut Chanocha was army commander-in-chief.

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