Rostec, a technology investment group backed by the Russian state, has acquired a 25 per cent stake in Yota Devices as the mobile phone company gets ready to start selling its dual-screen YotaPhone in more markets across Europe and the Middle East.
The first generation of YotaPhone, which comes with a second screen on the back of the device to provide always-on access to important, real-time information without draining the battery, was first launched in Russia in December last year.
Sales were initially extended to four other European countries, where the retail price was set at around €500 ($688). Overall sales reached around 12,000 units in the first month to six weeks, and mostly took place in Russia. The company's goal is to increase the number of markets to around 20 throughout March and April. The device has just gone on sale in the UK at £419 (€501), for example, and the Financial Times noted that it will be made available in the Middle East next month.
The main purpose of the first-generation YotaPhone is to determine whether there is any demand for this rather unusual and innovative device, which some describe as being like a Kindle on one side and a smartphone on the other.
Vlad Martynov, chief executive of Yota Devices, told the Financial Times that the company does not expect to make a profit from the first version of YotaPhone, and that high sales are not a target.
The company has greater ambitions for YotaPhone 2, which was launched at Mobile World Congress with enhancements including full-touch control on both displays, a slimmer device with larger screens (5-inch AMOLED on one side and 4.7-inch EPD on the other) and improved battery life. The new device will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year, and is likely to be sold at a similar price to the first YotaPhone.
Yota Devices was spun out of Yota Scartel in 2012. Martynov told the FT that Rostec had exercised an option to acquire a quarter of the company, which he said was a legacy of Rostec's participation in the restructuring of Scartel.
- see this Financial Times article (sub. req.)
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