A U.S.-Armenian company said on Wednesday that it plans to launch early next year the first-ever production in Armenia of its tablet computers designed by local specialists.
The company, Technology and Science Dynamics, unveiled the first samples of its Armtab gadgets as well as smartphones called Armphone at a December 6 government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian. The latter hailed this as an important milestone in the development of Armenia’s information technology (IT) sector.
“The manufacturing process has not yet started. We have asked the government to allow us to operate in the free economic zone,” said Rafael Ghasabian, the chief executive of the company’s Armtab Technologies subsidiary.
“In the beginning we will assemble tablets. Their components -- more than 20-30 different items -- will be brought from abroad and they will be assembled here,” Ghasabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Ghasabian referred to a tax-free business zone that was opened in Yerevan in July. It is managed by a Russia microelectronics company and is supposed to mainly host hi-tech manufacturing firms exempt from virtually all taxes.
The government is expected to formally allow Armtab Technologies to operate in the tax haven at a cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday. A corresponding business plan submitted to the government and posted on its website makes no mention of Armenian-made tablets. It presents instead a detailed timetable for assembling for the next three years tens of thousands of MINNO tablets commissioned by their designer in the United States.
Ghasabian explained that Armenian tablets are to be manufactured in addition to the U.S.-designed devices. He said his company has not yet set specific output targets for Armtabs, which will that will run on the Android operating system adapted to its parameters by Armenian specialists.
“We expect orders. But I can’t give any figures for the moment,” added Ghasabian.
According to the business plan, the company’s manufacturing unit in Yerevan will initially employ 20 people. The number of workers is to gradually reach 70 by 2016.
Alexei Chalabian, an Armenian IT expert, suggested that finding export markets will be key to the success to the Armtab project. “The Armenian market is quite small and it would make a lot of sense to try to sell them abroad,” he said.
Ghasabian acknowledged the importance of exports. In his words, the company will seek to lure buyers with the relatively low cost of the Armenian tablets which he said will average $250 apiece. “We plan to manufacture inexpensive tablets with quite strong parameters,” he said.