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Why Cheap Smartphones Are Going To Upset the Industry

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the call-me-when-they're-disposable dept.

Cellphones 234

An anonymous reader writes "Just when people got used to good smartphones costing $200 with a 2-year contract, they also started to realize that those 2-year contracts were bad news. Still, it's often more palatable than fronting $600 for good, new hardware. But that's starting to change. Cell phone internals are getting cheap enough that prices for capable devices have been creeping downward below $200 without a contract. We ran into something similar with the PC industry some years back — previous-gen chips had no trouble running next-gen software (excluding games with bleeding-edge graphics), and so the impetus to keep getting the latest-and-greatest hardware disappeared for a lot of people. That revolution is underway now for smartphones, and it's going to shake things up for everybody, including Apple and Samsung. But the biggest effects will be felt in the developing world: '[F]or a vast number of people in a vast number of countries, the cheap handset will be the first screen, and the only screen. Their primary interface with the world. A way of connecting to the Internet where there are no telephone lines or coaxial cables or even electricity. In nations without subsidized cell phone contracts or access to consumer credit, the $50-and-you-own-it handset is going to be transformative.'"

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Upset the industry? (4, Insightful)

anubi (640541) | about 7 months ago | (#47030417)

I would not be surprised in the least to find voice over internet protocol (VOIP) completely taking over once everyone has access to this technology.

Who needs a cellphone carrier if they have access to the internet?

The providers as we know them now may go back to selling buggy-whips for all I know...

Upset the industry? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030437)

Except in places where data is limited to a fault, ie anywhere that isn't urban america and/or some other afluent cities (like London). Same reason why SDCards aren't going to die for android, as much as google might want you to stream your music it just isn't possible and a sub 2gig plan. Even then it's still stupid. So long as there are stupid caps to the level of data that companies will give people nothing like this will take off. Take my plan for example. I live in Australia and all the plans from every comapny around $30AUS a month have about 200-400 MB worht of data. to get anything worth while you have to go up to $60 a month which for a lot of people isn't something they can do. It's similarly shitty in a lot of other countries too

Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (1, Insightful)

cheekyboy (598084) | about 7 months ago | (#47030475)

Clue up google. Dont be daft dick heads.

Unless you give me a 64g nexus phone thats $299, give me a mobile with 3 microSD slots.

1 for video
1 for photo
1 for apps/data.

Your 100% wireless internet is still 15 years off.

Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030495)

all of that can be achieved by partitioning you sdcard, NOOB =P

Re:Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030523)

I used to have a dumb phone, but I traded it in for two tin cans and a string.

Re:Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (5, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 months ago | (#47030533)

Oh to have a string! All I have is this lone integer, you insensitive clod!

Re:Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030555)

Use it wisely and you can still transfer information with it.

Re:Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030625)

There can be only one.

Re:Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (5, Funny)

Moonrazor (897598) | about 7 months ago | (#47030885)

An integer ?! All we had was a bit! We used to dream of having an integer. Would've been like a palace for us!

Re:Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (1, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#47030727)

Nobody (except maybe you) wants 3 SD cards in their phone. CEOs know what they're doing.

Re:Dear google, we love sdcards , idiot CEOs (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#47031217)

CEOs know what they're doing.

But thank God, they don't have to, as long as governments keep them aloft.

Re:Upset the industry? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#47030477)

In Africa, you get things like community mesh networks spreading. Especially with recent codecs like Codec2 (hi, Bruce Perens! ;-)), you should need even less bandwidth than GSM for reasonable-quality VOIP apps.

Re:Upset the industry? (-1, Troll)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030527)

Nothing to eat, your kids are dying of some horrible disease and you can't the medicine they need, but the datacomm is improving every day! I really, really hate to admit it, but for once Bill Gates is right.

Re:Upset the industry? (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#47030541)

You do realize that Africa is far from being this homogeneous place where everyone has the same problems?

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030549)

Nope, I never saw that movie Mean Girls, I don't know there are white girls from Africa.

Re: Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030701)

There are. I am one

Re: Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031049)

How you doin'?

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030579)

You hdo realize that Africa is far from being this homogeneous place where everyone has the same problems?

Yes, but when people talk specifically about Africa, and mention how improved wireless networks would be so beneficial there, as opposed to anywhere else, it wouldn't make sense if they weren't talking specifically about the poorer parts. Otherwise, why are mesh networks more important in Botswana than Uzbekistan (which has a PPP GDP per capita less than 1/4 of Botswana)?

Re:Upset the industry? (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 7 months ago | (#47030711)

Not only that: Uzbekistan lacks a No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

Lagos probably has more Blackberries than London.

Re:Upset the industry? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031225)

That's because they can't afford Iphones.

Africa (0, Flamebait)

Arker (91948) | about 7 months ago | (#47031155)

Most Americans really have no idea how big Africa really is. This may help:

http://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/true-size-of-africa.jpg

Another bit of geography Americans often cannot grasp:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/04/07/the-less-americans-know-about-ukraines-location-the-more-they-want-u-s-to-intervene/

Interesting correlation there.

K. S. Kyosuke gets called out & ran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031423)

From a fair challenge like a chickenshit blowhard who tosses names & runs http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

K. S. Kyosuke gets called out & ran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031445)

From a fair challenge like a chickenshit blowhard who tosses names & runs http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

K. S. Kyosuke gets called out & ran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031469)

From a fair challenge like a chickenshit blowhard who tosses names & runs http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

K. S. Kyosuke gets called out & ran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031477)

From a fair challenge like a chickenshit blowhard who tosses names & runs http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030581)

The first part of finding a solution to a problem is obtaining enough information about it. And, believe or not, information technology an indispensable tool to do just that.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 months ago | (#47030653)

How do you think the rest of the world got so far ahead of these remote african locations?
We had all the same problems in the past too, and we overcame them.

The real key is education, to enable people to improve their own conditions... Dishing out medicines and food will just increase the population while doing nothing about the conditions that make even the current population levels unsustainable. It's only making the problem worse, and making the people ever more dependent on foreign aid.

There was noone around giving europeans free food and medicine when people were starving or dying from plagues. Most people had to go it alone and have emerged much stronger as a result. Africa on the other hand is being completely screwed by foreign interference.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030827)

The real key is education, to enable people to improve their own conditions.

Who said anything about not increasing education? Believe it or not, you can educate people pretty well without mesh networks. Surprisingly, most people in the developed world who are at least 30 or 35 managed to do it. There's this great new tech called "books", which are much easier to setup and maintain, and can even run without electricity! Some guy named Gutenberg developed the tech to make them much cheaper, and I think his patents have expired. Absent books you can give people in the poorest parts of Africa a better education than they have with just someone standing in front of the room and a few slates.

There was noone around giving europeans free food and medicine when people were starving or dying from plagues. Most people had to go it alone and have emerged much stronger as a result. Africa on the other hand is being completely screwed by foreign interference.

Ok, we'll send you back to Europe during the famines of the early 14th century, or the Great Plague of the mid 14th, and you can tell them how it will make them better off in the long run.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030883)

> someone standing in front of the room

I think you really don't get it. First "someone" isn't enough. It needs to be someone sufficiently educated. And you need one for about every 30 children or so. And if you are unlucky, all you get out of it is maybe 10 educated people, the others either can't attend, at least not regularly, get too sick, die, ...
It is incredibly expensive and simply doesn't scale and as a result in general just does not happen.
We'll have to see how it goes with mobile, but chances are it will happen, simply because they'll end up being a good investement even in the short-term (classroom education in contrast is a massive and both short to medium term cost to absolutely everyone involved from parents to teachers to governments with uncertain pay-off), and once they are there anyway there is no real extra cost to using them for education.

Re:Upset the industry? (5, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47031247)

First "someone" isn't enough. It needs to be someone sufficiently educated.

Yes, it's called a virtuous cycle. Educate some people, they can teach more people, etc. It's worked pretty well for thousands of years.

And you need one for about every 30 children or so. And if you are unlucky, all you get out of it is maybe 10 educated people, the others either can't attend, at least not regularly, get too sick, die, ...

That was my point about people needing enough to eat and being in good enough health to learn something.

It is incredibly expensive ...

Labor rates are pretty cheap there.

simply doesn't scale and as a result in general just does not happen

That must explain why, for example, in colonial America most people were illiterate. Oh, wait, the American colonies were known for having a very high literacy rate, and people from the mother country who came here were amazed at not just the literacy rate, even amongst the poor, but how well read and informed many of them were. And it was done with, wait for this, drum roll ... one room school houses. Apparently some of the people who learned there, got a little more education, and then taught in other schools. It was amazing! I forgot to add: they didn't have cell phones or the Internet. Apparently they thought indoor plumbing was a higher priority. Such ignorant fools!

Even in 21st century America cell phones, the Internet, laptops, etc. have done remarkably little to improve education. Do you know that when TV first came along they thought it would be a great educational tool. Long distance classes and so forth may be great at a college level, but do you really think that'll work for a bunch of grade school kids? Maybe when they improve image recognition enough so that it can figure out whether little Bobby in the back needs to go #1 or #2.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 7 months ago | (#47030973)

"There's this great new tech called "books", which are much easier to setup and maintain, and can even run without electricity!

In parts of Africa they have only one Book (but maybe multiple copies.
Then the europeans came and bought along a different (indeed older) Book, and now they are fighting about it.

Re:Upset the industry? (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 7 months ago | (#47030671)

Nothing to eat, your kids are dying of some horrible disease and you can't the medicine they need, but the datacomm is improving every day! I really, really hate to admit it, but for once Bill Gates is right.

Right about what? Bill Gates has been one of the main public proponents of the importance of cheap smartphones and cellular networks in the poorest countries. If you don't have reasonably fast and reliable communication technology you can't solve any of the other problems.

For example rail lines and steam engines pretty much solved the communications problem in western Europe and North America in the 19:th century, along with telegraph lines for shorter messages.

Re:Upset the industry? (5, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 7 months ago | (#47030787)

Nothing to eat, your kids are dying of some horrible disease and you can't the medicine they need, but the datacomm is improving every day! I really, really hate to admit it, but for once Bill Gates is right.

Should be downvoted as downright stupid. If one of the three towns 20 miles footwalk away has the medicine your kid needs and the other two don't, then having a phone to find out which one can save your kid's life. People in Africa use phones to get information about markets so they can go to the right market to buy or sell things. You really can't imagine that people in bad living conditions could use the power of communication supplied by a phone to improve their living conditions?

Re:Upset the industry? (3, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 7 months ago | (#47031119)

You really can't imagine that people in bad living conditions could use the power of communication supplied by a phone to improve their living conditions?

This is slashdot you know, the one time technical sit now populated by the most short-sighted asshats on the intertoobz.

Moped Jesus could be handing out free beer and they'd bitch about the brand and the temperature, and how the beer disproves Global warming, and that godammed Jesus is just a hill for the NSA.

People who are way behind in technology should not have some slashdotter declare that they shouldn't have that technology.

Let's say you are a poor farmer in Africa. You might be able to get information on crop planting, as in weather events that might affect your harvest - you want to wait a day or two if a big storm that would wash away your planting was going to happen.

With only a little imagination, it becomes obvious that smartphones will be a very positive effect in poor people's lives.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47031371)

Let's say you are a poor farmer in Africa. You might be able to get information on crop planting ...

Right. One of the biggest problems in teaching people better farming techniques is that they are loathe to try anything different. It's not so ridiculous because one bad crop can mean starving, so they're very conservative. You think they're going to say, wow, what a great idea I got from the Internet! Even agricultural agents don't cut it. The best approach is to find one adventuresome farmer (or guarantee to make up for it if his crop fails) and let other people see how it works. If they notice that Charlie has especially good crops of corn, then they'll try it.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47031327)

People in Africa use phones to get information about markets so they can go to the right market to buy or sell things.

And they'll be able to get the latest stock quotes too. People know where to go to buy and sell things, just like they did for millenia before cell phones. What people in poor parts of rural Africa lack is a decent way to get their products to market. Ugandan honey sells for a premium (something about a smoky flavor and countries w/ honey connoisseurs) but how does a Ugandan apiarist get his product to market? Roads and maybe even trucks would be good - no cell phones or Internet required. It worked to solve India's milk "shortage". In small villages lots of people have a cow, but how to get the milk to the markets in the cities? They instituted a system where a village had a cooler, everybody put their excess milk in it, and every few days a truck came along to pick it up. They even made sure the truckers weren't ripoff middle men, so the farmers got some of the money. No fancy electronics used, and it actually served a purpose without tech lovers in developed countries thinking their favorite tech gadgets could solve the world's problems.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030913)

You know in the dark ages of Europe people were dying of plague. Political system involved burning your opponents at the stake or starving entire cities to conquer them. Lifespan was very short on average.

You know what changed the future of Europe? Trade (and associated increase in knowledge from the Arab world) and the printing press. Basically "datacomm" saved the world, not cure for plague, not changes in political systems, not improved lifespans.

K. S. Kyosuke gets called out & ran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031401)

From a fair challenge like a chickenshit blowhard http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

K. S. Kyosuke gets called out & ran (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031405)

From a fair challenge like a chickenshit blowhard http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

K. S. Kyosuke gets called out & ran (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031411)

From a fair challenge like a chickenshit blowhard http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#47031019)

blehblahdah.

having data is mandatory for the 2.5th world countries. because everyone uses whatsapp or line for chat(sms is too expensive).

but anyways, upset the industry? maybe the american version where selling shit networks and gouging ridiculous money from "subsidized" handsets from users.

anyways, nokia is making a dualcore android phone now and it's retailing at about 80 bucks(unsubbed)... 200 bucks is mid range.

I live in finland and thailand and really the cheap data options are about the same, except in finland you can get 256kbit/s for "free" and real 3g for ten bucks. (and yes yes, you can run torrents on that all month long because xxxMB packages are so 2003...) . telstra&others are fucking your ass but I don't suppose thats any news for you.

Going from Kuopio to Helsinki(like 400 km on road) I had constant 3/3.5g coverage all the way, definitely a bit more rural than "london and urban america".

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | about 7 months ago | (#47030443)

Voice calls are very cheap and reasonable in many developing countries such that it isn't really an issue. In my experience the connection quality is usually too low for an adequate VOIP service, but this may change with the new generation of mobile internet.

My perception is that telcos in developed markets are finding it more lucrative to milk whatever they can from legacy customers still ready to pay high prices for voice service than invest and develop new technologies and services.

Re:Upset the industry? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030467)

Who needs a cellphone carrier if they have access to the internet?

To acually get to the Inernet when there is not any WiFi around?

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030493)

It's the Internet. Shouldn't it just be there, because it's the Internet.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 7 months ago | (#47030665)

I imagine even the Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy faded away if you took it 'out of range.' Let's ask the telephone sanitizers how it went.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030485)

In the UK:

Get a £90 5.5inch smartphone from China. Does 99% of what a £300 Samsung does. Then get a Virgin Mobile £15 per month (1 month contract) sim-only deal with unlimited calls, data and texts.

The days of agreeing to long contracts to get a decent phone are long gone... and good riddance to the greedy bastards.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030617)

We don't got no weird foreign £ in 'merica, and even if we's did, many browsers don't support no weird furrin character codes for it. Hope the Queen gets a bad cold.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 7 months ago | (#47031035)

I understand the £ British pound sterling, I don't get why they have a  symbol before it. Is that an Ancient letter (part of a STÂRGÅTE address?)

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031453)

Exactly. When used in conjunction with the "£" symbol, it provides an immediate transfinite interdimensional link between the instance of the symbols and the Bank of England. Once these symbols become sufficiently widespread, they will enable banks in London to directly provide financial services worldwide. In USA they'll be easily able to undercut the funds transfer price currently charged for international and domestic wire transfers, Paypal, credit cards, and ATM debit withdrawals. Being bankers themselves, however, they'll choose to undercut that price by .0001% and offer spiffy new "sterling points" that accumulate every 25 transactions.

Re:Upset the industry? (2)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 7 months ago | (#47030621)

I tried one of those Chinese smartphones. Absolute pile of crap - technically it worked but it was so slow and frustrating that trying to use it was an utter chore. My Nexus 5 cost three times as much but is easily worth it.

Agree on the contracts though - my monthly bill on Three PAYG is about £5-10.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030683)

I got one based on an MTK6589... not a single problem with it. It is fast... and most importantly, it's been reliable. At the time it cost me 100 GBP... best purchase I've made for ages.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030847)

Fortunately Lenovo bought what was left of Motorola Comm., and the Moto X is pretty damn good. Lenovo will probably announce that they'll keep the engineering and manufacturing in the US, because the Chinese stuff is crap. Meanwhile "American" companies will ship everything to China.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#47030835)

in the UK that may be true, in the USA we dont have it so good yet

Re:Upset the industry? (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030551)

I would not be surprised in the least to find voice over internet protocol (VOIP) completely taking over once everyone has access to this technology.

There is nothing about VoIP that's inherently cheaper than straight digitized voice streams. VoIP eats up more bandwidth (all the headers and stuff), and RF bandwidth is the most precious commodity there is in wireless. They've done a great job w/ better modulation and coding techniques, but Shannon and Nyquist are still right. Getting more RF bandwidth is great too, but there are still limits. Maybe someday we'll use mm wave for cell phones, but we're a long way from that.

VoIP makes sense for fixed point connections where umpteen zigabit/sec (or whatever they're up to this week) makes bandwidth extremely cheap, but otherwise it sucks. And I haven't even mentioned latency requirements yet.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030575)

The difference is that you don't need a license to do VoIP. You don't have to wait for someone to build out the phone network. You don't have to bribe someone to get a slice of spectrum. You just buy a Wifi access point and connect it to your neighbor's access point.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030609)

Mesh networks are cute, but how are you going to get reliable mobile comm? Suppose you're the only one on the road within wifi distance? Or is there some other ISM band protocol you had in mind?

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030637)

Wifi distance is a relative term. With highly directional antennas, that distance can be miles, even without exceeding EIRP restrictions. And you're not restricted to Wifi: Any network technology which can carry IP (i.e. all of them) can be used.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030661)

IP over carrier pidgeons.

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030783)

Wifi distance is a relative term. With highly directional antennas, that distance can be miles, even without exceeding EIRP restrictions.

You can use up to 52dBm EIRP, but by FCC rules you can only do that w/ a 30dBi antenna. That's very directional, like the kind of stuff that's used for carefully aimed terrestrial microwave links. That's hardly suited for mobile. Cellular mobiles, as opposed to the base stations, generally use omni's, or at least very low gain. MIMO can buy you a little, but it's not magic. Admittedly 52dBm EIRP is an extreme (the tradeoffs are here [afar.net] ), but you still have the same basic EIRP vs. directionality issue. The coffee can WiFi antennas are cute, but only useful for fixed point-to-point stuff.

And you're not restricted to Wifi: Any network technology which can carry IP (i.e. all of them) can be used.

What did you have in mind? And remember that the only reason WiFi transceivers are so cheap is because of the enormous production volume.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031103)

If you want to provide mobile phone service everywhere, then Wifi isn't a good match. If you just need service in selected places (at home, at work, etc.), then "long-haul" wireless with directional antennas combined with short range omnidirectional wifi fits the bill.

Other technologies for "long-haul" can be things like free space optical networks. If you own the ground, even fiber optic cables are a possibility. The technology is simple, cheap and readily available. Buildout is usually hampered by regulatory concerns which don't apply in neighbor-to-neighbor situations.

My point isn't that this is easy or a drop-in replacement, just that you can do it if you want to. VoIP doesn't need a particular kind of network, like the voice protocols on dedicated mobile networks do. You just need an IP network, and you can build those in many ways.

Re:Upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031333)

Does the FCC have juristriction in Africa?

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 7 months ago | (#47030629)

I use VOIP sometimes but have often had to drop my calls and go back to the standard phone network because the quality was so poor. Maybe other ISPs or VOIP providers would be better - but it's a bit of a crapshoot. It's certainly not good enough to abandon conventional phones entirely.

Re:Upset the industry? (2)

alen (225700) | about 7 months ago | (#47030703)

every carrier in the USA gives you unlimited minutes and texts
what's voip supposed to be used for again except international calls?

Re: Upset the industry? (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 7 months ago | (#47030779)

Who needs a cellphone carrier if they have access to the internet?

So who do you think is going to provide this ubiquitous internet ?

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

gtall (79522) | about 7 months ago | (#47030817)

Err...who owns access to the internet?

Re:Upset the industry? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#47030875)

Who needs a cellphone carrier? So you think that its 'magic' that your phone has data as you drive around? You seem to not understand that many carriers these days have data caps, but not voice caps. ( all will follow if more people use more data.. ).

"but i have wifi" , ok where is that coming from? Another carrier that will cap your use. And how do you expect to get that WiFi once you leave your home? Idiot.

You cant beat the people that control your connection. They make the rules. You will take it, and ask for another.

Only in USA (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030419)

Where people are still dumb enough to buy phones on contract. Every other country, civilized or not, the people pay for the phone and buy the service they need

Re:Only in USA (2, Insightful)

HuguesT (84078) | about 7 months ago | (#47030603)

Not really no, it is common in many parts of the world.

Re:Only in USA (1)

houghi (78078) | about 7 months ago | (#47030923)

I wish. I Belgium it is law that you sellunblocked phones and also phones without a contract. It used to be forbidden that you sell them as one, untill a minister wanted to buy an iPhone and heb was not able to because they were not sold in Belgium

So he changed the law.

The companies wanted to sell them as a bundle, because they knew they would be making more money and not because Samsung, Nokia or any other company would lower the prices. It was because people would pay more.

One easy way to do that is to sell 'free' phones at a higher price then what they are actualy worth. The continious kickback is of more interest then to have than a one time profit.

I also know that there are enough people who go into debt to have the latest phone and then complain to creditors that they are thieves, because the kids have nothing to eat.

Idiots exist everywhere. The difference is that in many countries you have actual competition.

Over enthusiastic (1)

Dupple (1016592) | about 7 months ago | (#47030427)

A way of connecting to the Internet where there are no telephone lines or coaxial cables or even electricity.

What the hell is going to power the phones then? I think someone may be getting a little carried away with themselves

Solar power and diesel generators. (4, Informative)

WegianWarrior (649800) | about 7 months ago | (#47030459)

While I can't comment on the third world in general, I saw a lot of solar cell setups for charging cell phones in South Sudan - people even ran solar charging as a business; a solar panel, some car batteries, a black box of electronics and 3 to 5 South Sudanese pound for a full charge.
Also saw plenty of cell towers with solar panels and battery banks, with diesel generators for backup. Not as clean or tidy as plugging into the grid, granted... but it works. Was a life line for me for a year spent down there, and twice so for the people who lives their whole life there.
Just because you can't plug something into a national grid, don't mean you can't get power... often cheaper and more reliable than the grid too - at least in Juba.

Re:Solar power and diesel generators. (1)

Thruen (753567) | about 7 months ago | (#47030569)

Right, so, electricity. It doesn't stop being electricity when it comes from solar panels or diesel generators, so I'm not sure what you're on about. Clearly, they were getting carried away suggesting you'll be able to connect to the internet without any electricity.

Re:Solar power and diesel generators. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030917)

Obviously without any electricity infrastructure/grid/whatever. It obviously didn't mean if you waved your magic stick and made electricity as a physical phenomenon go away it would still work.
Anything you can just buy for a low price and take with you isn't a relevant barrier.
Also bike generators are 6V and should probably work well enough for charging a phone, though solar is probably the simpler option considering that lack of sun isn't exactly a frequent issue in most of Africa.

Re:Over enthusiastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030471)

What the hell is going to power the phones then?

There used to be these things called self-winding watches. They were powered by the kinetic motion of the wearer walking around. Sufficiently energy-efficient phones can be powered by this lost technology.

Re:Over enthusiastic (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 7 months ago | (#47031091)

In most parts of the world they have these 4 wheeled vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. They usually have a 12 volt output that you can plug a phone charger into.

Re:Over enthusiastic (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 7 months ago | (#47031263)

Running a vehicle just to charge a cell phone is _grossly_ inefficient, and expensive. A local generator charging batteries is more efficient. But why pay for gasoline, and maintaining a motor, or even pay for grid electricity, when a modest solar charger can pay for itself in a month?

Chinese Smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030429)

I have a THL W200S. For 170GBP it's performance is similare to a Galaxy S4. What's more, no contract. For 12GBP a month (no contract) I get unlimited data, unlimited texts and 250 *free* minutes . It's no wonder folk at work are now taking an interest, trouble is they're all tied into contracts.

Developing world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030433)

I agree cheap smartphones will have a tremendous effect in those areas, just look at what a huge impact OLPC has done. And by the way, food, sanitation and clean water a way overrated and hyped.

Re:Developing world (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 7 months ago | (#47030721)

Without cellphones, how will they make enough money to organise clean water and buy sanitation?

WIth a cellphone you can find out how to (profitably) make "pure water" (Google is your friend). West Africa is extremely capitalist: you have to do it yourself. The starving millions are starving through lack of cellphones - they are an essential business tool: people with cellphones are not starving.

oh noes not the cheapening (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030449)

Whatever will mobile app developers do when mobile devices are so cheap that everyone will expect apps for free? How will the developers ever get paid?

The GNU future is coming true. Free software will be the norm when hardware is a dime a device. Programmers will have to find work other than programming if they want to eat.

Sigh (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#47030479)

What else, precisely, were you expecting?

That we all continue to pay for the latest-and-greatest no matter what for ever and ever? Smartphones are plateauing, like any other technology. They are now so ubiquitous that there's little point spending a fortune for something that can do the same, but "slightly faster" or with more megapixels, or whatever.

Sure, there are evolutions, and merges of technology, and lots of new developments still to come but if the phones don't have something new, then they are all just the same as each other, give or take a few statistics here or there.

Smartphones beat out ordinary mobile phones, that's for sure, but it was a long while coming. Tablets are in the same place at the moment - they are powerful enough to run almost anything and so there's little to distinguish them except for company name and some random technical specifications.

Welcome to the era of ubiquitous computing, where my mobile phone can plot a course across Europe, suck down traffic data and tell people on Facebook when I'm going to arrive quicker than I could do it myself on a full PC. While also handling all my calls, monitoring my car engine, checking my Exchange accounts, etc.

The problem we have now is not pricing - the cost of something going down is rarely a problem for the consumers or the manufacturers and their suppliers. The problem we have now is what comes next? We all have Turing-capable machines that run at stupendous speeds, and most of us actually have several. The question is how do you design your services to take account of this - TV streaming, etc. is still in its infancy and pretty much in denial at the moment.

Re:Sigh (5, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030519)

You're absolutely right, but in addition to that the cellphone business (smart or dumb) has always been a crazy business to be in, even crazier than PC/laptop's. There it was about price, so the change was always slower and smoother (might take 5 years to be put out of business).

The cellphone biz is insane. Remember when Nokia was king of the hill? Blackberry, Motorola, etc., etc. It's probably better business to be a component supplier. The margins may get thin as the prices go down, but it's all about performance and price. Chip sets (the RF/DSP stuff, not ARM's), displays, etc.

Electronics: the only business where prices go down.

I wish there were more like it. They keep telling us that inflation is low because smart phones are getting cheaper, and a pair of socks is $0.05 cheaper because they're now made in a country where people earn $2/day instead of $3. Never mind that nobody can afford medical insurance (yes, before Obamacare too, w/ double-digit inflation), and going to college (let alone grad school) means mortgaging your children's children.

Here's one for you who complain about old fart stories. Between a partial scholarship, federal grants (yes grants, not loans, and my family was working class, not poor) and employer tuition payments (100% if you got a 'B' or better), I got my BSEE and MSEE without paying a cent in tuition. I'm not gloating, because it was not because of anything brilliant that I did. I wish we still had it because my kids are approaching college age. But inflation is low!

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030597)

ha ha america

Re:Sigh (2, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 months ago | (#47030719)

Reagan set the stage. Clinton triangulated the Democrats and aligned himself with the Republicans. Though the Democrats love the "Big Dog", he was the one who decimated welfare as we knew it, killed Glass-Stegal, exempted derivatives from regulations, and permitted regulator shopping among the financial institutions. 100 billion dollar insurance companies register themselves as thrifts to escape oversight, for example. All through the 90s there was systemic wealth transfer from the bottom 80% to the top 20%. Most of the tax cuts ended up with the top 2% but rest of the top 20% got some bones and they played along. Then came 2000s where the top 2% systemically transferred wealth from the 80%-98% to the top 2%. Even inside that bracket it ended up in the top 0.1% disproportionately. Now we have America where the networth of bottom 50% is zero. In the last five years the net worth of people in the tranche of 98% to 99% stagnted, 99% to 99.5% tranche got modest wealth gains, 99.5% to 99.9% got some significant gains and the top 0.1% got most of the gains.

Now even the net worth 1 million to 4 million group itself is feeling the effects of income/wealth inequality. The most solid middle class of america, net worth between 0.5 million to 2 million (including home equity) is feeling the pinch. Obama is following Clinton footsteps, keep Democrats happy with social liberalism and but let Wall street rule the roost. Hilary is far more astute than the Big Dog, but she too, along with Obama, trust the Wall Street connected advisers too much. Elizabeth Warren is not an anomaly. Pretty soon all the politicians will realize the value of running against Wall Street, genuinely against Wall Street.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030741)

Occupy Wall Street was a George Soros attack against Mitt Romney. When he stopped funding it OWS dried up. Deal with it.

Re:Sigh (4, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#47030857)

Clinton was a Democrat? Are you sure?

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031105)

Clinton was a Democrat? Are you sure?

Yes, because there was a (D) next to his name on the ballot.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030587)

hence the apps that will always inevitably need the next model

Re:Sigh (1)

swb (14022) | about 7 months ago | (#47030765)

That we all continue to pay for the latest-and-greatest no matter what for ever and ever? Smartphones are plateauing, like any other technology.

I think some people will, there seems to be a lot of opportunity for improvements in technology and platform-specific development even if cheap phones seem good enough for some specific set of circumstances.

But you already can get good cheap phones... (3, Interesting)

hamster_nz (656572) | about 7 months ago | (#47030545)

... it is just that the phone networks don't want you to have them.

I have a 5", quad core, 2GB RAM, 32GB Flash smart phone from Chinavasion [chinavasion.com] . It is much like a Samsung S4, and cost US$250. Unlocked as a standard feature, and with dual SIM, Took five days to from order to doorstep. Plugged in my work SIM and my own SIM and gave back a my work's S3.

A cheap 4" can be had for under $70.

Re:But you already can get good cheap phones... (2)

Thruen (753567) | about 7 months ago | (#47030577)

But the Chinese might be spying on you!

Hah, gave myself a good chuckle with that one.

Re:But you already can get good cheap phones... (1)

TheDayOfMe (808363) | about 7 months ago | (#47030673)

You're right, they don't to spy when they can just buy the data from the local spies.

good smartphone for $200 on contract ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030613)

Xperia L is a sub $200 phone without a contract and it does pretty much everything I want from a smartphone

Shame Google dumped Motorola (3, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | about 7 months ago | (#47030667)

In the US anyway, Google/Motorola has been raising the bar on what's possible with inexpensive smartphones. I have a Moto G targeted to the Boost no-contract plan for which I paid $80, out the door. It has a decent (if non-removable) battery, excellent screen of a decent size, runs KitKat/Dual-Core/1GB RAM, and is even waterproof (plenty of YouTube videos showing the phone functioning in a bowl of water.) The next version (coming out soon) will add a much-needed MicroSD slot and LTE. The only significant con is the camera, which is pretty mediocre (but what do you expect for that price?)

The CDMA one I bought was easily flashed over to PagePlus/Verizon (Boost inexplicably did not request Moto permanently lock the bootloader; you can obtain a bootloader unlock code for free from Moto.) The GSM version is sold unlocked directly by Google for all of $180; the 4G will be $220.

And they just announced the Moto E; a slightly lower-spec phone for only a puny $130.

There's rampant speculation if Lenovo will continue this trend of well-spec'd cheap phones. The consensus seems to be no, given how Lenovo actually wants to make money on the purchase, and nobody thinks Google has any kind of usable margin on these superb value-priced phones.

Re:Shame Google dumped Motorola (3, Informative)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 7 months ago | (#47030769)

The Moto G is actually a quad-core. I have a Nexus 4, but I envy Moto G owners mostly because the phone is undistinguishably speedy, its battery lasts longer and it's unbelievably cheaper. Lenovo would be crazy not to continue the trend, because what Moto needs now is market and mind share. They attempted to make good phones with good margins (I'm thinking of the RAZRs) and they were doing way, way worse than with the Moto G/E.

And what Google did with Moto was so simple it's laughable. Just remove the cruft (stop wasting resources with kevlar backs or MotoBlur), simplify and optimize the software and you can actually surpass the competition while using cheaper components. They could sell the Moto G for $300 and it would still be a good value if you compared it with the competition. LG's G2 Mini is pretty much the same phone, but priced at $400.

Premium devices not mainstream attraction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030811)

I think its clear that not everyone can afford a premium smartphone or the cellular package required for it. The iPhone set the bar but many since have managed to reduce costs but still provide a good experience. It is why Apple created the iPhone 5C. Not that affluent American's would be buying the 5C. But that Apple realized to expand your market potential. You can't just market to a higher income market. Much like Apple never pushed Mac's much beyond a single percentage of PC market. It now has lowered prices on Macbook Air's realizing that consumers are deciding that they don't need such expensive devices to satisfy their requirements.
Emerging markets for smartphones are a hot bed potential for market share. Microsoft believes this focusing cheaper Windows phones on those areas and having some success. I myself have gone from premium products like Mac's and iPhones, to Chromebooks and cheaper low end PC laptops. Mainly because my requirements don't justify spending so much on the devices. Apple no doubt will retain its premium image in addressing the market for its products. But it may have to accept it will not be able to sell in markets as well keeping its margins and prices in tact. The future looks to be more affordable, less complex devices.

$200 with a 2-year contract? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#47030865)

Except they really were not $200. It's just that people are too stupid to figure out the true cost.

WTF does that even mean? (5, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | about 7 months ago | (#47030969)

Transformative? Every time some semi alcoholic blogging 'communications major' from Vassar or some such place wanders into the mall and discovers that last year's models can be had, from a third party kiosk for near-free they immediately whip out their own brand new iPhone to proclaim a Golden Age is Upon Us.

Cheap smartphones have been around for years and years you retard. The problem is the NETWORK.

upset the industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031001)

Wait, so is that bad? I thought we were using "disrupt", and it was supposed to be good. Does upset mean bad or good?
This is terrible! (meaning good)

Upset the Industry? Gosh! (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#47031241)

Can I go on record as giving not one single fuck if the "industry" is "upset"?

You want upset? Talk to my wife when she finds out I plan to spend my afternoon watching the Blackhawks, napping on the couch and playing Dark Souls II.

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