Marvell, ST Ericsson, Texas Instruments and carriers Orange, Telefonica O2, KPN in the Netherlands, Telecom Italia in Italy and Netcom in Norway are all talking about wanting to sell cheaper pre-paid only unsubsidized Android phones to consumers in Europe according to this article.
chipmakers are rising to the challenge – Marvell showed off a chipset to enable a sub-$99 smartphone; Texas Instruments discussed a cutdown implementation of its OMAP3 application processor for midrange handsets or new device formats like e-readers; and ST-Ericsson pinned its growth hopes on ‘smartphones for all’.
Alcatel Mobile Phones introduced its first Android phone, the OT-980, at Mobile World Congress. It sports a touchscreen, vertical slider Qwerty keyboard, Wi-Fi and HSDPA and will ship in June at an unsubsidized price point of below €200.
Unlike most Alcatel phones, which are targeted at developing economies, this will be marketed mainly in Europe, with the UK, France, Spain and Italy the prime markets because the firm believes the Alcatel brand is strong there. Alcatel Mobile Phones is owned by TCT Mobile of China, which acquired the business from what is now Alcatel-Lucent several years ago but kept rights to the brand. Like other Chinese players like ZTE and Huawei, it aims to use affordable smartphones as the route to gain a presence outside developing markets.
I am still slowly uploading my remaining 10-15 videos from Mobile World Congress to Youtube, as Internet upload speeds using Swisscom ADSL in Switzerland also are absolutely terrible, where uploads get disconnected all the time, I have to resume an FTP upload 100 times over many hours uploading with an average of 10kb/s and I have to ask someone else somewhere else to be nice enough to upload them to Youtube for you during these next few days.
After the Google keynote on the third day of Mobile World Congress, I was lucky to speak with Andy Rubin product manager at Google of the Android project of which I got several very interesting replies off camera to several of my Android related questions, until I also got to ask Eric Schmidt a couple of questions while he was walking with his team including Google President of Product Management Vic Gundotra to a secret meeting with secret people (that I didn’t try to guess who were) in a secret room behind the scenes of the keynote area:
– How soon are we going to see the Android laptops?
(big smile, everyone in the Google team around the CEO laughs, and looks at me like I know something)
(another smile and laugh from himselft and the Google team)
– I would have to say No Comment on this one.
– Do you think it’s bloated?
– No comment
What I take from those answers, mostly from what I saw in the faces of Eric Schmidt and his team, is that Android in ARM powered Laptops certainly is one of Google’s next big projects although the big tagline of his whole keynote speech was “Mobile First”. I would guess probably that Laptops and Tablets may be supported by Google with one of the next versions of Android. This is also the kind of confirmation that I got speaking to Andy Rubin in the following interview. This is not word for word what he said, he wouldn’t or couldn’t let me film him answer my questions, this is kind of what I remember him answering:
– Do you know the Archos 5 Internet Tablet? (I show mine to him)
– Yes I know it. It’s nice.
– When are we going to see official Android Marketplace support on such kinds of devices that for example don’t have 3G and only have WiFi and also introduce a few new hardware features such as larger screens and Laptop form factors?
– While we were initially asking manufacturers to stay within our hardware requirements and guidelines, we are also definitely going to be supporting Tablets and Laptop form factors as well soon.
– Can Chrome browser run within Android, and if it could, what would need to be done in terms of software engineering to make that work on Laptops and Tablets with WVGA or higher resolution screens.
– Both Android and Chrome are open source, and we have released the Native Android SDK, so any developer could certainly try to port the Chrome browser for Android. But the Chrome browser is more adapted for larger screens such as laptops. It does make sense.
– When are we going to see Android phones sold unlocked below $200? I was the one to falsely circulate the rumor (which though I didn’t present as a rumor but more as a Wish in a simple comment) of the $199 unlocked Nexus One pricing.
– Even for the Nexus One, we are not the ones setting the price. (I don’t know if he simply meant HTC is setting the price or if someone else at Google is setting the price. And I didn’t manage to ask if Google is making a large share of the profit margins on selling Nexus One unlocked or on contracts or if Google “only” makes about the same margin as any other reseller.)
That’s it, I didn’t really present myself as a video-blogger/press/journalist directly to Eric Schmidt in the brief few seconds that I was able to talk to him and I didn’t want to slow them down as I somehow got to be somewhere back stage where I was not really supposed to be. I left my business card to the press relations Google lady asking if there was any way for me to be allowed to Interview Google Engineers in a video for my video-blog about my Android and Chrome related questions.
I was politely contacted the same evening by a Google UK press representative telling me that “Thanks for our interest in doing a videoblog here at mobile world congress. I’m afraid that we don’t have the resources to do on-camera interviews this year. Apologies for any inconvenience.”
No problem, it was fun just to speak with Andy Rubin for a few minutes and to Eric Schmidt for a few seconds.
You have to consider that some of the leaders of the telecom industry were probably in the audience at that very packed keynote room at Mobile World Congress. I did find it slightly fun when some people (possibly with an agenda) did ask quite harsh questions to Eric Schmidt when there were some minutes for the Q&A, for example Danish Analyst John Strange asked if Google was trying to turn the Telecoms into dumb pipes when they rather would want to be intelligent pipes, which fueld several replies from Eric Schmidt and further discussions on the matter also when a Dutch Analyst asked if Google wanted to “steal the voice minutes” from the telecom industry. I found those questions very fun, especially since some in attendance seemed to be cheering against Google for those two questions. I certainly am rooting for Google to disrupt the established telecom industry business models. Sub-$100 fully featured Android phones could reach not only populations of rich countries, but those billions of people in developing countries, even people who currently live in slumps, in misery, and for whome I am convinced access to technology could be a faster solution.
While you wait for my next videos, you can watch Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s keynote at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in the following video:
Erik Helgerson is Technical Lead Product Manager on the Windows Phone 7 Series project at Microsoft. Here’s an overview of some of the Interface features, hubs, some talk about applications, multi-tasking, design, hardware requirements.
Augmented reality application for the iPhone 3GS sponsored by Plantronics to find the closest available free WiFi hotspots to do some work on the Internet. I’d like something like this also including automatic user reports based on Net Meter type applications, also with information on achieved download and upload bandwidth at each hotspot.
Opera seems to have a pretty snappy web browser for Android, for the iPhone, for Windows Mobile and for Symbian phones. They are right now negociating licensing deals with carriers, with manufacturers about providing the Opera browser version 10 on all these devices as soon as possible.