Students are hooking up more and more with wireless companies in the back-to-school season, making this period a key time for buying cellphones.
New smartphones are usually launched at this time along with plenty of deals as back-to-school starts to rival the holiday shopping season for cellphone sales, analysts and wireless providers say.
David Fuller, chief marketing officer at Telus, said smartphones are significant to the back-to-school season for the Vancouverbased wireless provider.
"There are as many or more smartphones bought by customers in the backto-school time frame than at Christmas," Fuller said.
"Students think of September as the start of their year," he said. "You get a lot of students just naturally making technology buys in the back-to-school period."
Computer science student Varun Vrayen was out recently cellphone shopping with his friends, all newly arrived from India to attend university. They were looking for unlimited calling to stay in touch with each other and call back home.
"If we need some help or if we're lost in the city, we'll need to talk," said 23-year-old Vrayen, who was in a Public Mobile store in downtown Montreal.
Public Mobile launched about two years ago in Ontario and Quebec, offering cellphones with no contract and no credit checks.
Other wireless providers that have launched in recent years include Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Videotron. They've focused their marketing on competitive prices and mostly serve large cities. So far, none of the newcomers have opened for business in Greater Victoria.
Telecom analyst Troy Crandall said there's no one more "value oriented" than students and the new wireless providers have an opportunity to appeal directly to them.
"To me, it seems like prime time for these guys to get in and start going after these customers that are all looking for good value," said Crandall of MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier. If students don't insist on the "hottest phones out there," there are choices that offer good value, Crandall said.
But handset manufacturers are using this period to launch new smartphones, Crandall said.
Apple is expected to launch a new version of its iPhone this month.
Samsung and Nokia are unveiling smartphones based on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 operating system.
"It used to be that the Christmas holiday season was the biggest, but the shift is moving into the Q3 back-to-school season.
You're seeing that reflected in the launches of handsets," Crandall said.
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