Voda goes ultra-cheap with handsets for the developing world
Easy to use
MWC In rich countries, the consumer buzz around mobile phones is all about iPhones and data and internet. But for cellcos, rich countries equal saturated markets, fierce competition and stand-still sales. They rely on the developing world for just about all their growth.
That means cheap phones, cheap enough pre-paid plans and good enough reception, especially in countries with large populations of rural poor, who typically lack access to landlines, even if they have the means to pay for the service.
Hence initiatives such as Vodafone's, which today launches two own-name handsets sourced from TCL, the Vodafone 150 and Vodafone 250, in India, Turkey, Qatar and seven African countries. They retail at under $15 and $20, unsubsidised - The 250 costs more because it has a slightly bigger, colour screen and supports FM radio.
As well as voice and text, the phones support mobile payments, a fast growing service in emerging markets, according to Vodafone, which claims 11 million registered customers for its money transfer and bill payments facility.
In its press release, Vodafone trumpets the potential of the mobile phone as a "powerful social enabler" and it says the "lives of people who use these phones... will be changed and improved as they become part of the mobile society". A little overblown, perhaps, but Vodafone's drive to make mobile phones affordable for poor people is entirely a good thing.
Not overblown at all
Imagine being able to call a mate in town to check on the prices at the market, without having to go and check for yourself. Or being able to use Mpesa to transfer some money to your Granny on the other side of the country so she can afford to go out and buy food. Mobile technology is a real life-changer in the developing world: some of us have been saying it for years. In actual fact, an iPhone would be useless to them as most useful third-world apps are written in Java.
Nokia 1100, 20quid on PAYG, available for a tenner in every cashconverter.
B+W screen so it runs for a week, rubber keyboard that is almost waterproof and the only gadget is an LED torch in the end.
Only pain is they don't make a quadband, the US version is CDMA on Virgin PAYG
Better than a mains charger:
A solar charger
A phone that is more efficient and a network that requires a phone to poll less.
"They retail at under $15 and $20, unsubsidised "
When will they be available in the UK ?
Ideal for people who want a very simple phone - big buttons (looks like, though scale not known). Lose it ? ...buy another...
$20 for a phone with a colour screen. Amazing. I assume that includes the battery and charger!
If only they had Asda in the 3rd World
Seen recently, Asda offering Samsung (or some such) cheapo for £10 including a £5 top up (I think you had to send for a voucher) but a whole working phone for £5.