Cheap Is New Cell-Phone Mantra
Monday, July 11, 2005
Pricey smartphones might get all the attention. But these days, much of the mobile industry is focused on making phones for people who today can’t afford even a basic handset.
For instance, Philips Electronics recently announced that it has the electronics required to make a mobile phone that can be sold for less than $20. By 2008, the company hopes to be able to support handsets that cost less than $15.
The GSM Association, a trade group for mobile operators using GSM technology, meanwhile, has also sparked a race to the bottom of the price scale with its Emerging Market Handset Programme. Acting on behalf of operators from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, the group has outlined specifications for a new ultra-low-cost device that would help create a viable business serving people who may only pay $5 a month. The GSMA talks of “connecting the unconnected people” of the world, noting that around 80 percent of the world’s population lives within wireless coverage but only 25 percent use mobile services. These feel-good words run parallel to the more hard-nosed reality that people without phones are a ripe market.