Jumping on the make-your-own-national-gadget bandwagon, Armenia has come up with a smartphone and a tablet computer of its own. Presented to the Armenian government on December 6, Armphone and Armtab are expected to hit stores after New Year's Day.
As is often the case with such devices, Armphone and Armtab are only partly sovereign Armenian. Designed in Armenia, the devices run on an Android operating system and will be assembled in the US and Hong Kong. The creators – Technology and Science Dynamics/Armtab Technologies, described as an Armenian-American joint-venture – say that they hope the low price will attract first regional (Georgia and Ukraine) and, eventually, international customers.
The price of the 16-GB tablets will range from $225 to $280, Vahan Sahakian, the director of Technology and Science Dynamics/Armtab Technologies, told Armenpress. Sahakian presented Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian with a sample Armtablet at a government meeting, which then managed to segue from smart technologies to a discussion about Armenia's textile, knitting and shoe industries.
How exactly the Armphone and Armtab will compete with better known brands remains an open question, but, for the Armenian government (which, in the past, has shown a marked preference for Apple products), the two gadgets must come as no surprise. Detailing the legacy of Armenia's Soviet-era computer industry, a recent report by the Ministry of Economy and the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, a technology-business promoter, stated that IT products accounted for 8.5 percent of the country's exports in 2010.
Armenia is the second ex-Soviet republic after Russia to venture into the international smartphone market. Russia’s recently unveiled YotaPhone is scheduled to go on sale in European and Middle East markets early next year.
But for landlocked, natural-resources-free Armenia, which is trying to reinvent its economy largely based on the export of metals and the inflow of foreign remittances, the stakes attached to this venture are higher by far.