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Mobile Phones

The mobile phone industry in the Philippine market today owes its success to the introduction of a ready to use cellphone kit (which contains a cellphone and a simcard) and pre-paid cards (which is used to load your cellphone with credits) which made owning a cellphone easier and more economical. The Philippines is known as the “Texting Capital of the World”. SMS (small message system) is referred to in the Philippines as “Text”.

PLDT, Globe, and SUN Cellular are the major mobile phone carriers in the country. I have seen Philcom and PT&T sim-cards back in the late 1990’s, but I think they don’t offer their services anymore. PLDT offers its mobile phone services thru its subsidiary, SMART Telecommunications. SMART has a multitude of mobile phone services and plans available. The most popular and successful of which is the Talk N’ Text service, a cheap mobile phone service targeting the low-cost market. SMART also has the Smart Buddy targeted at the more casual users, and SMART Gold, which caters its services to the richer populace. They also have ADDICT mobile and SMART ZED. Globe offers their mobile phone services in the Philippines thru Globe Handyphone. Like SMART, they have a low-cost service plan available thru Touch Mobile and the executive class plan Globe Platinum. SUN cellular made a scene when they offered unlimited call and text in their mobile phone services. Both Globe and PLDT complained about it and sought to stop the service by filing a complaint to NTC, but NTC favored SUN stating that there’s nothing wrong with it. To counter this, both Globe and PLDT now offer unlimited call and text also, but you have to go through some process of registration and subscription to enable it. SUN offers unlimited call and text (via SUN to SUN only) readily available. Though SUN offers the best deal in the mobile phone market, Globe and PLDT still have the biggest share, since SUN still has limited network coverage. PLDT has the most nation-widest coverage. All 3 companies offer their services in both post-paid and pre-paid billing system. SMART Gold and Globe Platinum though, are strictly post-paid.

Texting (SMS sending) is the primary usage of mobile phones in the Philippines. Even major corporations and government offices use it for their services, promotions, and as a mode of communication. Back in the late 1990’s when SMS was first introduced, it was a free service available to all cellphone subscribers. Filipinos found the SMS service extremely useful for communicating since it doesn’t use up their credits. Then, they seemingly “abused” this service, sending not just important messages, but apparently “useless” messages such as jokes and quotations. These texts later became known as “Forwarded”, since they are mostly forwarded from people to people, similar to how chain-mails get passed around. The cellphone companies noticed this trend and stared to charge SMS sending ( 0.5 Pesos at first). This did not deter the users and as Cellphone prices continued to drop and more Filipinos started owning cellular phones, texting became even more popular. Texting became so popular in the Philippines that it lead to the death of Pagers and Page services. Filipinos also rather communicate thru texting rather than thru voice, using their cellphones as a sort of instant messaging or chat room. The popularity of texting also invented what we now call as “text-speak”, which is similar to the instant messaging lingo where words are shortened and abbreviations are used. Not only does “text-speak” provide faster messaging, but it also saves you on sending costs (since SMS messages nowadays usually costs 1 peso per send, unless you are subscribed to an unlimited service) since shorter messages would only require 1 send. Texting also provided the idea of having a “Textmate”, where people can tell their stories to each other and act like a social communications tool similar to a “Penpal” or “Chatmate" works. Nowadays, an estimated 1 million SMS messages are sent in the Philippines on a daily basis.

Nokia is the brand of choice for cellular phones here in the Philippines. Nokia phones were also influential in enabling the texting craze. The 2110 and 5110 models shaped the basis of texting with their 4-line text display that became the standard template of forwarded text messages. Motorola comes in at 2nd, and their RAZR series are the most successful models. Sony-Ericsson is popular with the richer consumers, preferring their P900 series. Samsung is preferred when it comes to Flip-phones and is also popular with women. Myphone is the newest brand to be introduced in the Philippines. It’s primary selling point is the ability to use two simcards (usually from 2 different Carrier) at the same time.

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