SHANGHAI Right now, it's just wishful thinking, but a $10 cell phone is definitely on the minds of researchers at UC Berkeley's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).
An official at UC Berkeley confirmed the project with EE Times after a report emerged earlier this month saying CITRIS is exploring the feasibility of such a phone with a few Taiwan contract manufacturing heavyweights, including Hon Hai Precision Industry, Compal Communications and Quanta Computer.
"The idea of a '$10' cell phone is a visionary part of a long-range goal in CITRIS to take low-cost Internet connection technology to emerging regions of the world," said Gary Baldwin, executive director of CITRIS. "We have had some discussions regarding low-cost manufacturing, but this is very much in the formative stages, and we are years away from reducing our research to practice."
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 some reports indicate it has not done well. Last week, Motorola told EE Times that the phone was meeting its sales expectations in the India market.