A Cellphone with no Flips, no Folds – Just a Very Low Price

Thursday, March 13, 2008

PARIS: It looks a bit like a child’s toy, a walkie-talkie circa 1975, a cheap plastic throwback to the good old days when telephones were made for talking.

But to Spice Ltd., a telecommunications company in the world’s fastest-growing phone market, this new product embodies the latest, greatest innovation in cellphone technology today: a handset priced at less than $20.

Spice, which is based in Noida, India, unveiled what it is branding “the People’s Phone” at a wireless industry conference in Barcelona last month. The handset is an anomaly among mobile phones today: The number keys are big and bold. It is chunky and has no color screen – in fact, it has no screen at all. Nothing about it flips, folds or slides. It is, as Spice’s chairman, Bhupendra Kumar Modi, described it, “just a phone.”

Yet if sales unfold according to Modi’s plan, Spice could sell as many of the People’s Phone as Apple sells of its iPhone, which sits at the other end of the coolness – and price – spectrum, with a price tag of $399 in the United States and more in some other markets. Both companies are aiming for sales of 10 million phones in their first year, which would be about a 1 percent share of the global market in 2008.

“There is a massive need for these phones,” said Paul Shoker, president of Spice Mobile. “We are targeting an area from Iraq to Indonesia, and that area has a population of 2.5 billion.”

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Source: International Herald Tribune (link opens in a new window)