The demand for low end button phones will always be there. For sub$20 price points, that is the only feasible option.
outside of US, phones are purchased without contract. There people spend money on how much they consume. There are so many tiers for data and cellular usage that allows u to buy what u can consume..
Thats the big market benefitting w the low end smartphone rise.
I have already seen Sub $70 smart phones in china and SE Asia and they have all the basics right( wifi, touchscreen etc)
Agree w author that Firefox may be the big thing going forward.
I used to be a Silicon Valley engineering director, then I became an academic and took a breath-taking paycut. I have four "feature phones" from Verizon and still have a $170 monthly bill. It is far too much IMHO. Companies all fight for the business of the wealthy, but there are far more people who are struggling and who just need phones -- indeed they are the folk that go for the pre-paid phones. No one wants to go after the low end, but the low-end frequently consumes the high end (think PCs and workstations/mainframes). I also have philosophical objections to expensive closed architectures. Yes -- I can buy cheap apps for an iPhone, but I don't want to pay data charges ... PERIOD -- so I won't use a smart phone, or the browser on my dumb-phone. The "feature phone" is not dead ...
Feature is long dead and won't rise. Smartphones are the real thing.
As an analogy, Pcs started off with $1000 and are now available at 199.
Same will be smartphone story.
They started off at 600 and because of the wider reach(3b ppl), will hit $50 very soon.
Like pcs, All devices will have the same functions and features.
User experience will determine how much premium it can command.
Actually, it's interesting you bring up the use of smartpohnes you witnessed on trains in Japan.
It turns out that Japan trails far behind the U.S. and the U.K. in terms of the smartphone use.
According to comScore, as of Dec., 2011 in Japan, 76.2 percent of the population was using mobile media services, but where, surprisingly, less than 17 percent had smartphones. (In fact, every time when I go back to Japan, my friends and relatives ask me if I use a smartphone -- a kind of question that I had never anticipated in Japan!)
In the U.K. and U.S., on the other hand, smartphones respectively account for 51.3 and 41.8 percent of all devices, and 56.6 percent and 55.2 percent of mobile users are accessing mobile media.
It turns out that NTT Docomo's imode services are the ones to be blamed for Japan's lagging smartphone trend.
Japan’s early move into mobile content -- being one of the very first to offer more than just voice and text to users –- apparently reduced the consumers' appetite for smartphones in Japan.
Things, however, are rapidly changing. Smartphone are catching up in Japan this year.
It's interesting, though that whenever we follow technology stories, we enevitably rediscover some cultural/business models that unexpectedly hinder or promote the new tech/product trends.
The discussion continues as India's richest man attempts to catapult his Reliance Industries Ltd. into the 4G era in 700 Indian cities: http://eetimes.com/electronics-news/around-the-web/4391036/India-s-richest-man-plans-huge-4G-wireless-network?isCmsPreview=true
Framing this discussion between "smart" and "feature" phone seems to be somewhat semantical to me...what is "smart" today will likely be "dumb" 10 years from now...the essence seems to be what features are really needed for low end market to be successful on a massive scale in Asia, South America and Africa..and what is the business model of selling those phones...kris
Aren't we simply dealing with a moving target here? This simply changes the definition of "feature phone" to "low end smart phone". The definition presented for feature phone in this analysis would have *been* a fairly high end smart phone not that long ago.
One of my contentions is that down the road, _all_ cell phones will be smartphones, simply because they *can* be. The steadily increasing power, and decreasing size and cost of components, have made things possible at progressively lower price points, and I don't see that trend stopping any time soon.
"Reuters, earlier this month, reported that “Telefonica has said the [Firefox5-based] phone price will be significantly cheaper than the low-end Android models, meaning Firefox phones can be priced at levels around $50 excluding operator subsidies.” This compares with a price of around $200 for a typical smartphone."
Indeed, *now.* Think 5 years ahead based on current development trends and tell me what it looks like. That $50 phone will *be* today's "$200 after heavy carrier subsidy" model. What will tommorrow's feature phone be?
I have to agree with hazydave. At least in the U.S., the main difference between the feature phone and the smartphone wasn't so much the price of the phone as it was the carrier's control over the phone and the user -- and the carrier's ability to nickel and dime the feature phone user with a limited selection of apps, ringtones, music downloads and location-based services that were for the most part uniquely tethered to that particular phone.
As hazydave indicated, a feature phone user who actually used all the capabilities and apps offered on his phone could easily end up spending more per month than a smartphone user.
"Smartphone" and "feature phone" describe business models as much as they describe devices, and increasingly consumers are opting for the freedom of choice offered by the smartphone business model.
The cell phone and carrier service market in other countries, especially in the developing world, has always been different than in the U.S. But increasingly, competition is starting to favor the smartphone business model -- lower service costs and freedom of choice -- in those countries as well.
This discussion is rather timely in light of an article that appeared earlier today about the changing landscape of cell phone usage in Kenya -- particularly the reduced service costs and the social transformation that mobile banking has fueled. Today, nearly 60% of Kenyans use their phones to shop, pay all their bills, and move their money around. Does it really matter whether their device is considered a feature phone, an entry-level smartphone, an mid-range smartphone or a high-end smartphone? The point is, the business model is no longer the "carrier's choice" feature phone model, but the "user's choice" smart phone model.
Good point. How operators will price the data plan for the merging Mozilla phones would be interesting to watch. As much as HTML5-based phones can reduce the cost of the hardware (hence operators can benefit from it), if it is bundled with an expensive data plan, consumers will be the ultimate losers.
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