Interesting prediction of the future market. I guess I would expect that the results will be different. I dont' expect windows, blackberry or others to do that good. There may be an Others that will do good, but it would have to be a break out.
Clearly there is a lot of demand in developing nations for low cost phones that can connect to the internet, but I'm curious how the data pricing tiers play into that. Is data not a premium service compared to voice in the developing world as it is in the industrialized nations?
The issue of the data plan cost has been one of the main discussions at the MWC. In most developing markets people use pre-paid cards, and data is very expensive to them. But most of them are using feature phones.
Facebook is working with Gemalto offiering basic FB experience on feature phones by special SIM cards with SMS packages. They want people to experience the social network and move to a smartphone, and carriers are happy to help to get new data customers. This model is already working in countries such as Morocco, Colombia and Chile.
But the data plan cost is not only an issue in developing markets. Here in Spain many people do not have a data plan for their smartphones, and try to connect only by wi-fi. Since basic free Wi-Fi is available in many cities they just jump from hotspot to hotspot and get a connection.
The above statement may be true. However, the original idea of having low cost computer is not only for studying and information sharing but also for learning programming. As of today, neither smartphone nor any tablet devices is the right platform to do so. Most apps are indeed developed on a computer (either Mac or PC) and download it to the device for testing before submitted to the store.
To fill the gap of learning programming, maybe, there should be an apps that link to a virtual platform of a programming language. ;)
cloud is the right answer to fill this gap. Today we are building and maybe testing apps on laptop, PC or servers but what if all the processor load can be shifted to cloud servers and a developer can just write the app on tablet and present it.
Low cost is preferable to entire geographical areas and market segments in the overall industry. I don't know that we'll ever see sub 100 dollar PCs, or what that would look like exactly, but the demand for it would be there if someone could afford to make it.
As the focus shifts to Cloud and a high spped network, there won't be any need for smart phones. The simple feature phones with a better display screen would be able to achieve the same perfromance what a smart phone of today would do.
So Firefox seems to have this vision while bringing their $25 phone.
I would think that as the cloud expands and develops the need for smartphones of a variety of calibers will also assert itself more and more. But that's not a real certainty. The cloud throws the entire smartphone market for a loop--it makes everything sort of questionable.
The challenges are both technical & economic. As you said, there is the need for the wireless bandwidth to handle large numbers of users, but there is also the issue of the cost for them to use that bandwidth.
The concept of a very low-cost phone that relies heavily on the cloud is somewhat at odds with the availability & cost of using the cloud in developing nations. To some degree, it is an example of putting the cart before the horse.
@Anand, that's a good question. I don't know what's going on with Windows phone, but as long as Android phones are concerned, that's exactly where they need to go if they are to proliferate in what used to be the feature phone terrritory.
JMO: I would say that Android phones will keep getting cheaper because there are so many competitors. Microsoft has to drop prices to compete with Android or their market share goes pffft. Apple can keep coming out with new models with incremental improvements and charge the same high prices, and their fans customers will keep coming back because you're not "cool" unless you have the latest model. The fact that they cost more makes them "cooler".
I don't get why the big wow is about. Yes firefox uses lower memory, but the difference between that and a low end android phone(256MB ram and extra 2GB) is less than $5(according to DramExchange). Assuming the $25 is BOM we're talking about less than 20% difference.
Also, previous versions of android we're targeted at low memory and there are many apps highly optimized for low resources. For example opera mini(which is so light it can even run on feature phones), and FB plus for facebook, a facebook app that takes only 121k, Not forgetting the huge app ecosystem android have which some of it could be usefull for these phones.
So until a decent comparison is made between FirefoxOS and a well optimizised low end android phone, i prefer to stay skeptical.
This whole feature phone vs smarphone and firefoxphone vs android is a bit of a redherring. It is better to examine the capacity of the USD25 HW and figure out what can run on it.
Back in 2006 when I demo'ed a concept phone platform at the MWC, 500 Mhz ARM11, a VGA display and 128MB of DDR was sufficient to run our variant of the Opie platform, a Linux + Qt combo. Same Linux + Qt combo (which is what Tizen and Jolla's platform are at their core) runs well in a 500 Mhz Cortex 8 + 256 MB DDR2 today (I use this combo in OMAP3 processor based banking terminals running Linux apps).
The Spreadtrum platform is more powerful than this since an A7 will be faster than a A8.
Even an A5 is no slouch either.
Last time I checked a dual Cortex A9 combo with audio codec IC and power mgmt IC sold for USD7. A version with BB should probably be 10 for 2G. And these are at 10k volumes for a dual Cortex A9 that can run a 10 in tablet (I advise a mobile OEM, so these figures are accurate). A7 based parts will be cheaper since A7 is more optimal. Higher volumes prices on A5s and A7s can be significantly cheaper.
This will let it run a good optimized linux based applications, whether it be android, Qt or a run-time of your choice. Android may a little resource hungry but will take only a little more memory with probably another 200Mhz. In fact if I am not mistaken this HW is not too far from the original iPhone or Droid HW. Display quality will be poorer of course.
So as alex_m1 pointed out probably another USD5 in BOM. Assuming a generous 8% manufacturing cost, 40c extra for manufacturing. So we are talking about a USD6 spread.
So the vast price difference between a so called feature phone platform and an optimized android platform is a myth. The product price difference is due to positioning of the devices by the OEMs rather than indicative of major HW costs.
This implies that the mobile world is heading the PC way. For a vast majority of users, the low cost platform's capability has reached what a typical user wants. So faster CPUs buy you nothing other than greater battery life. And the everage user plays angry birds not a mobile version of an arcade game at 1080p resolution. Only component that has not reached commodity levels is good 720p/1080p displays. 4.5-5.5 in parts are still expensive and let us face it, for the vast majority of the users that this firefoxphone is aimed at, the phone will be primary internet device and a large display really counts.