Samsung D780 Duos
For Samsung Duos-branded dual-SIM handsets are the sacred cow – no wonder about that, since this is the project that has given a whole new niche on the market a jump-start. The first model of this breed, the Samsung D880 Duos, coming in the sliding form-factor and with a hefty price tag (500-600 USD when it landed). The vendor’s expectations of the Duos had been enormous and first sales coupled with a huge marketing push proved that they hit the nail on the head with it – the D880’s price wasn’t much of a hurdle, as it was bandied about and snapped up throughout the world. By the way, I almost forgot to say that in fact the handset was officially available only in Russia, but a couple of weeks into sales it was turned up in Washington and Atlanta, and Europe got first unofficial supplies even earlier! However, it didn’t last long – although they managed to back up their prognosis with real figures and distributed a tremendous number of units in the first quarter, subsequent months didn’t show such stellar results, as consumers didn’t really crave for such an expensive solution. All in all, the D880 was that rare case when a niche offering turned out to be all the rage in a multitude of other regions, allowing a grey market to emerge. Nevertheless its scale wasn’t threatening, plus for want of marketing activities on other local markets the handset had to limit its appetites only to the circle of people in the know.

Samsung has shaped up a new segment and took the lead on it, whereas Fly, Philips and other manufacturers generate 10 percent of all sales of dual SIM solutions at best. The truth is, Samsung’s business model and marketing push have played a foul trick with Russians, so that even Sitronics have come up with three dual SIM phones (15000 units manufactured). As always their talk may seem optimistic, but everyone who had a hands-on session with these three came out supremely skeptical. And there were reasons for that – in fact these phones have no future, being another “hi-tech” experiment from a “Russian” manufacturer.

Fly rolled out its B700 Duo at one time with the Duos, making for a nice competition between the two: slider versus candybar, superior software versus two hardware keys, expensive versus affordable. Surprisingly, Fly turned out to be not the weakest player around, managing to tout its solution very effectively and sell it in reasonable amounts. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Fly’s sales were a whole notch below Samsung’s, since their solutions didn't flow out to other regions and on top of that they had very few partners who didn’t buy up the B700 Duo in astonishing amounts, unlike the networks dealing with Samsung.

Riding on top of the craze around the Duos, the vendor managed to overload wholesalers with it to the extent that the latter had no other way to go but drop its price down. First price shifts occurred after the New Year eve, and then it all came down like an avalanche. Just for the reference – earlier this spring Samsung cut the price of the D880 to a certain extent, however in a couple of weeks it went through the floor to level of 35-40 USD off the maker’s own wholesale price. Nothing has changed over the past few weeks and probably nothing will change in the near future – the D880 has to get washed out from the market over time, for it’d be impossible to retail it for a whole lot, maintaining considerable volume of supplies at that, after all it’s only a narrow market segment.

Last autumn, at the Duos launch event, the maker also showcased the Samsung P770, which was their Samsung Armani yet slightly tweaked in the way of dual SIM functionality. However later that year they cancelled the device, since its future seemed unclear to say the least (ultra-low sales that would’ve been extremely hard to boost even with a massive marketing push). The company’s representatives whispered about the impending release of a whole array of Duos-themed solutions towards March-April 2008, feminine folders for the most part and some candybars for-all, in other words it looked like the Duos range was about to get beefed up with some more models. But as it turns out, this expansion has never taken place, so all we are left with is the second device in the line – the Samsung D780 Duos, housed in a candybar type design. And for now that’s about it, only two handsets in the range.

Is the candybar-styled D780 any different from the original Duos? Other than the form-factor there are no differences between them, to be really simplistic it's the same hardware but in a different wrapping. There may be some minor tweaks and alterations here and there, but they are of no real importance – the main selling point here is the dual SIM functionality. In fact, the advent of the Samsung D780 Duos is entirely due to the activities of the competition including Fly that has been doing very well at touting its dual SIM enabled candybar. So, should they miss this opportunity and forgo the class of affordable dual SIM solutions, the bulk of the market may well sway towards their rivals. However Samsung’s plans have been disturbed big time by the Samsung D880’s swooping price – in fact, it goes for less than what they charge for the Samsung D780 (400 USD). For comparison sake, the Fly B700 Duo is currently available for 300 USD or so. Therefore it’s very likely that they will do the same trick with the D780 – at first they will flood the market with this phone, then significantly cut its price, probably even to the level below wholesale prices. But unlike the D880 that, in effect, had no rivals, its follow-up does clash with some other offerings delivered by Fly and Philips, hence its price curve that will take a sharp turn down not in 6-8 months’ time, but rather 3-4 months into the sales.