SHANGHAI Plans may be afoot for a $10 cell phone. The brain trust at UC Berkeley's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) is reportedly reaching out to Taiwan contract manufacturers to see if it can be done.
If so, the phone may be ready in about two years, according to a report from Taiwan's Digitimes. Details are sketchy, but apparently CITRIS is in touch with a few of the island's contract manufacturing heavyweights, including Hon Hai Precision Industry, Compal Communications and Quanta Computer.
Quanta is the lead manufacturer for the One Laptop Per Child initiative, driven by Nicholas Negroponte at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
There are already a handful of pretty cheap handsets in the market. The GSM Association sponsored an initiative for Ultra Low Cost Handsets, which resulted in products targeted for Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Some second- and third-tier handset brands in China have taken the single-chip devices that came out of this effort and designed them into handsets that sell for about $50-$75. Motorola launched its Motofone in India recently, but reports indicate it has not done well.