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$20 Cellphones Possible with TI's New Chip

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the ever-cheaper dept.

Communications 298

swimgeek writes "Texas Instrument's Indian branch has succeeded in developing a single chip which combines the functions usually performed by multiple chips in a GSM cellphone. By doing so, cellphone costs can be dramatically reduced, thus making cellphones more affordable in developing economies. Nokia has been contracted to make the initial sets, with market launch in as soon as 9 months. More coverage here and here."

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who gives a shit (0, Flamebait)

mugsby (863118) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276373)

:) this will be good for some of us who just use cell phones as phones nothing else.

Re:who gives a shit (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276403)

":) this will be good for some of us who just use cell phones as phones nothing else."

Why not use a land line, then? :) :) :)

Uh, what? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276445)

Okay cool, next time I'm hiking someplace and get bitten by a snake or hit by falling rocks, or if I'm out sailing and the boat starts taking on water, I'll just reach for that handy landline.

Re:Uh, what? (1, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276471)

"Okay cool, next time I'm hiking someplace and get bitten by a snake or hit by falling rocks, or if I'm out sailing and the boat starts taking on water, I'll just reach for that handy landline."

Wouldn't you have to leave the house or something in order to do any of that?

Re:Uh, what? (2, Informative)

boisepunk (764513) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276519)

You're missing the point. I took "Just as a phone" to mean just that, not "play games, organize mp3z, walk my dog, write my thesis, predict stock prices and water my lawn." This definition EXCLUDES not leaving the house.

Re:Uh, what? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276513)

Okay cool, next time I'm hiking someplace and get bitten by a snake or hit by falling rocks, or if I'm out sailing and the boat starts taking on water, I'll just reach for that handy landline.
You dang kids with your fancy "landlines." Why back in my day when our ship sank and we washed up on a deserted island's craggy shore and climbed up the face of the cliff only to be knocked into a pit of snakes by falling rocks we had to signal for help using smoke signals from the fire we started by rubbing two of the cobras together, AND WE LIKE IT!

Re:who gives a shit (2, Insightful)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276555)

Because you can't turn a land line off as easily. While I personally despise cell phones, their greatest "feature" is the easily-accessible "off" switch. It takes a good deal of unplugging to get the same effect on a land line.

Re:who gives a shit (2, Interesting)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276636)

Why unplug? Just turn off the ringer. There should be a little switch on the side/botttom of every phone manufactured lately (last 30 years or so).

Re:who gives a shit (4, Interesting)

Spruitje (15331) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276673)


":) this will be good for some of us who just use cell phones as phones nothing else."

Why not use a land line, then? :) :) :)


Because in most parts of the world there aren't any landlines (at least, not enough).
One reason why GSM is adopted at such a rate is that in some countries there wasn't a working telephone system before.
And a GSM net is cheaper than putting a wired telephone system in place.

Re:who gives a shit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276411)

My phone company offered me a new, free cellphone today.

They guy on the line went silent for ages as he tried to think of a response to my reply that I only ever use voice, and don't want or need a camera or anything else.

The phone I have, a Nokia 5120iA does everything I want or need it to, as did the old Ericsson phone I had before that. I only upgraded from the Ericsson to this Nokia because I was given a cool faceplate which didn't fit the old Ericsson phone!

we don't like your type here (2, Informative)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276489)

I used to be in that camp, but now that i have a decent web-browser i'm starting to wonder how i lived without it.

Opera is remarkably usable on my nokia. I use it at the store to look up recipes, check if prices are competitive, pretend that i'm working when i'm out hiking etc....

Tri or Quad band seems like a must have for voice if you live in the USA since most of the rest of the world uses 1800mhz. Fortunately most new phones support that and it's a big reason to upgrade.

Re:who gives a shit (2, Interesting)

skiflyer (716312) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276532)

It's also great for those of us who dig super fancy cell phones... I just bought a treo, and I'm loving it... but when I go to the beach or other electronic unfriendly places, I pop out the SIM card and put it in my old motorolla... I'm fortunate to have the old motorolla, but if I didn't, I would love to pick up some sub $20 phone to put the SIM card in.

Faagz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276667)

A typical Pinhead. [bmezine.com]

GNAA outreach program hailed as a success (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:GNAA outreach program hailed as a success (2, Insightful)

Sarojin (446404) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276552)

With GNAA members leaving for T4C in droves, it's not surprising to see that you're ramping up your recruiting.

Is It Just Me? (3, Insightful)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276378)

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that this grand invention for Texas Instruments was done in India.

Re:Is It Just Me? (1)

Nimrangul (599578) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276440)

You are not alone, I audibly laughed upon reading that.

Re:Is It Just Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276516)

Should have been Indian instruments in Texas ;-).
That day is not far..

Re:Is It Just Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276522)

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that this grand invention for Texas Instruments was done in India.

They both got Steers... not sure on the queers though.

Re:Is It Just Me? (1, Informative)

tarunthegreat2 (761545) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276529)

It is pretty ironic. But what's more interesting is that TI was one of the first companies to jump on the outsourcing bandwagon, way before anybody could even say the word 'Bangalore'. TI and GE started outsourcing way back in the early 90s. In fact you can attribute most of today's outsourcing to the ground that they broke.

Re:Is It Just Me? (0)

Guru Goo (875426) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276658)

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that this grand invention for Texas Instruments was done in India.

Will be be more ironic for ya, if i told ya that India,China etc are the biggest markets for this TI chip?So nothin ironic about it being developed in India.

Re:Is It Just Me? (1)

sharmam (724120) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276678)

India proved in various places that it can generate quality work also be it
Microsoft,cisco,nokia,nec,alcatel,TI .....

Developing Countries (2)

TheBlacklion (860208) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276382)

Developing countries? Heck I'll take at $20 phone here in the good ol' US of A!

Re:Developing Countries (0)

PopCulture (536272) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276409)

yeah, and much like our current president you won't give a fuck that this technological milestone was brought to you by good ol' outsourced technology!

jesus. what will it take for America to wake the fsck up?

Re:Developing Countries (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276451)

Another market crash probably. Hopefully we wake up before that happens though. Too much unnecesary suffering.

Re:Developing Countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276466)

When will the general geek wake up? Outsourcing has existed long before the modern computer was around, back in the days of cotton farming we outsourced to the slaves of africa for a couple of pennies.

Outsourcing has existed in other industries for hundreds of years, yet history has shown that local people can still find jobs!

Re:Developing Countries (1)

syukton (256348) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276496)

I think that the real irony here is that an invention of Texas Instruments was invented in India. That little bit of outsourcing should hit the ol' G-dubber close to home, no? Probably won't wake his ass up, though...

Re:Developing Countries (2, Informative)

OldSchoolNapster (744443) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276520)

I would just like to remind anyone about to go on a rant about TI outsourcing that TI is in the process of building a $3 billion chip plant, right here in Dallas (Richardson), TX. Shamelessly copied from Dallas Morning news (I would have provided a link if it was reg-free):

When it comes to sheer size, the research facility under construction at the University of Texas at Dallas might have an inferiority complex.

JUAN GARCIA/DMN
Electrical engineering professor Bruce Gnade (right) said small companies will be able to hire the center to conduct research. 'We would have millions of dollars' worth of equipment that small companies can't afford,' Dr. Gnade said. Tom Lund manages the UT System's office of facilities, planning and construction.

It's dwarfed by the $3 billion Texas Instruments chip plant being built on a 92-acre site a few blocks away its counterpart in a Richardson mega-project.

But experts say UTD's 192,000-square-foot Natural Science and Engineering Research Building will be an integral part of the area's growth as a high-tech development and employment center. The $85 million facility, which marked completion of its roof with a ceremony Friday, is scheduled to be finished in December 2006.

"UTD is finally coming into its own as a major research university with lots of ties to high-tech industry," said Bernard Weinstein, director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas. "It's an asset for the entire region."

Waco economist Ray Perryman said the UTD center is a critical component for "leveraging the knowledge base" needed for research.

"The future of Dallas depends on being the leader in this next generation of technology. [UTD's research facility] is building the future," said Mr. Perryman, who predicted in a 2003 report that the two projects would create more than 76,000 Collin County jobs.

Bill Sproull, CEO of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, believes that most of those jobs will come from the "new technologies, new spin-off companies and new trained scientific engineers" generated by the research center.

"It's not an investment in the building," Mr. Sproull said. "It's an investment in the program."

The UTD and TI projects were the offspring of Project Emmitt, the moniker given to a deal quietly conceived two years ago by state, corporate and academic officials.

Under the agreement, TI would build its chip plant in Texas if Gov. Rick Perry allocated funds from the Texas Enterprise Fund for UTD research.

The UTD building, equipment, salaries, associated costs and upgrading of other science facilities are being paid for with $300 million in public and private funds. The state has contributed $200 million, and the university has to raise $100 million.

Compared with the TI facility, which will be the size of 25 football fields and have 1,000 workers, the engineering building will be modest: Its four stories, plus a basement, will house about 400 employees mostly faculty and graduate students working as research assistants.

The exterior design of the building makes ample use of curves and angles, and anodized stainless steel panels will reflect hues of greens, blues and purples.

"It's one of the finest pieces of architecture in the state," said Tom Lund, the resident construction manager for the UT System. "It's not just a rectangle. It moves, flows, curves and slopes."

Plans for the interior space might seem unusual for a college campus.

"It won't have classrooms," said Dr. Bruce Gnade, an engineering professor who serves as the university's liaison to the building project.

Biology, physics, chemistry, engineering and other scientific disciplines will be housed at the center, where the interior space will be designed to foster cross-pollination of ideas.

Glass will be used abundantly. Modular walls will be movable so that researchers from different scientific areas can easily reconfigure their work space to collaborate on projects.

"People believe the breakthroughs will come from overlapping the disciplines," Dr. Gnade said.

The building is designed "to make flexible space that almost forces collaboration," he said. "There are supposed to be no boundaries from a research standpoint."

This design isn't unique. Dr. Gnade said it's based on similar facilities at Cornell University, Northwestern University and the University of California at San Diego.

While the university project is closely related to the TI chip plant, its focus will be broader. "Probably less than 20 to 25 percent [of the research] will be semi-conductor related," Dr. Gnade said.

Technology companies can hire the center to conduct research. "We would have millions of dollars' worth of equipment that small companies can't afford," Dr. Gnade said.

Officials hope the center will help raise the status of the university in the research community, provide a steady supply of highly skilled graduates, and be an incubator for new ideas, new technologies and new spin-off companies.

Dr. Gnade said similar university-based centers spawn one or two companies a year.

While not all may succeed, "if it's one Yahoo or Google..." he said, leaving the thought hanging in the air.

Dupe... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276384)

Re:Dupe... (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276605)

Um... I hate to nitpick here, but this article is clearly not a dupe of the preceding one.
The preceding article states that TI is developing single-chip GSM technology that will result in $25 cellphones.
this article states that TI is developing single-chip GSM technology that will result in $20 cellphones.

Of course, the dollar could have gotten stronger against the rupee in the interim, which itself would be newsworthy...

Re:Dupe... (2, Funny)

damsa (840364) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276677)

That is newsworthy. Now the people in the developing countries can use that extra dollars to buy Britney Spears ringtones.

Re:Dupe... (1)

MonoNexo (843458) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276619)

No, it isn't a dupe, and not for the reason of the above post. This article says that the chip is being put into production and stuff with India, whereas the former article said they had just developed the chip.

Neat fab techniques but... (2, Insightful)

ag-gvts-inc (844888) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276385)

The article mentioned "India and other developing markets" but unless I move to Bangalore looking for work, am I going to see a cost reduction in my next phone? And if not, why not?

I'm sure the networks will swallow it (4, Informative)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276399)

Phone costs will drop, but generally since they are subsidized by your contract you'll never know.

Also it's worth noting that most of the world use 900 or 1800 mhz cellphones, whereas gsm phones in the US typically run on 1900 mhz - I doubt this chipset will be initially manufactered in US frequencies, although some latin american countries do use 1900.

Re:I'm sure the networks will swallow it (1)

ag-gvts-inc (844888) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276414)

it's worth noting that most of the world use 900 or 1800 mhz cellphones, whereas gsm phones in the US typically run on 1900 mhz
That's actually what I was wondering. Thanks.

Re:I'm sure the networks will swallow it (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276458)

Also it's worth noting that most of the world use 900 or 1800 mhz cellphones, whereas gsm phones in the US typically run on 1900 mhz - I doubt this chipset will be initially manufactered in US frequencies, although some latin american countries do use 1900.
Actually, most phones are tri-band (or quad-band capable) now. Even the basic phones.

Re:I'm sure the networks will swallow it (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276495)

I think triband phones have two xtal osscillators, i'm not sure that you can do 1800 and 1900 with a single one - at least not easily.

Even if you can, the silicon will be more complex to support more frequencies and i'd imagine this chipset cuts out all but the basic essentials.

Re:Neat fab techniques but... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276429)

am I going to see a cost reduction in my next phone?
Probably not.

And if not, why not?
Well, just take a look at how the providers rip us off anyways. (I'm looking at charging for individual messages, charging for minutes, charging for roaming*, etc.)

*
if your still in a network owned/operated by your provider, why the F do they charge you for going outside of a geographical area?

[/rant]

Fight for value (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276459)

You should be able to talk your network into providing you with state of the art phones. When we got our 6600's they were going for over $400 on ebay, but we paid about $80 each for them.

That means t-mobile took a $640 loss supplying us with those phones. Now they'll just make that back this year, but it seems like the only way to get value for money from a US network.

In europe you can get lots of phone-less plans, so you are rewarded for being frugal and keeping a phone for a few years.

Re:Neat fab techniques but... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276541)

Hell, you want an example of rip offs, Cingular has knowing been refusing to fulfill their end of the AT&T contracts they bought.

If you were an AT&T customers, and you've noticed drop outs, your phone not connecting to the network, lack of reception in areas that you used to get reception, you are being ripped off. Cingular modified their towers in such a way that many phones no longer perform correctly. Two seperate Cingular employees confirmed this.

Their offered solution is to buy a new phone, pay a higher price, and enter a new contract with them. I did get them to verbally agree to let me out of my contract, but I have yet to get it in writting as they told me I would get.

It was made absolutly clear that they will NOT be honoring their contract, and it took a good deal of discussion to get to the point that they would stop demanding money from me.

Re:Neat fab techniques but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276436)

greedy corps that would rather lock you into their phone systems, hosing you as much as possible, etc.

reminds me of dilbert..
"Jeez, they really blew some smoke up your ass. Did they use a hose or a giant fan?"

Re:Neat fab techniques but... (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276613)

"...am I going to see a cost reduction in my next phone? And if not, why not?"

No. Supply & Demand.

Cool. (1)

Sinryc (834433) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276390)

I would love to be able to buy a cheap cell phone. Even if it can only make calls, cause thats all I need one for. I don't need to play games, or anything else.

Well, a few more demands than that (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276612)

Good battery live, sturdy (like concrete crash proof), a phonebook, sms & missed calls. I do not care about the rest either.

Re:Cool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276648)

Not only would it be cool to buy a cheap cell phone ($20.00 or so... $9.99 would be cool) but to have a prepaid card that doesn't try to fuck you in the ass without spitting on the tool. They try to make up more rules than AD&D3.5 edition players handbook! Maybe they don't know what I want.

This is what I want.

I go into a store and buy a phone that is compatible with your prepaid card. I buy a prepaid card. I punch in the stuff in the prepaid card packacking and it just works. No 2 minute fee when I only talk for 30 seconds. My minutues (lets call them seconds because I'm sick of them making money off minutes instead of seconds) stay there until you go out of business, or I use them all. Not 1 month. Not 6 months. Not 1 year. Until I use the fucking seconds I paid for.

Thank you please drive through.

Finally, a computer for developing economies. (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276392)

I am so glad that somebody actually made an affordable practical computer for the developing world disguised as a cellphone. After all the simputers and half baked Linux web pads and other doomed "developing economy" platforms we might actually have a winner here. Of course there are a lot of middle and upper class people of all nations including India who will also benefit in that they are not gadget freaks and want a decent cheap cell phone.

FUck You! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276393)

Slashdot Sucks fp!

What about (2, Insightful)

Punboy (737239) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276394)

What about those of us who use a CDMA/TDMA only provider?

Re:What about (0, Troll)

Nevermine (565876) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276417)

Now why did your country start using that technology in the first place? ;)

Re:What about (1)

Punboy (737239) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276443)

Cause the company that created it had a) retarded engineers, and b) enough money to push it to the standard.

Re:What about (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276611)

Actually they were ahead of their time. That is not always good, though.
In Europe the GSM system is gradually going to be replaced by a CDMA system as well. Only they call it UMTS.

Re:What about (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276515)

You should vote with your feet and move to a GSM provider. Don't let them lock you in.

Do some CDMA providers also use GSM? If so, get your own GSM phone (and unlock it too presumably). I got a used Motorola V600 off eBay in the US and use it here in Canada, as well as the UK and US.

How will they keep C and A separate? (5, Interesting)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276395)

In dual-chip architectures, there are two chips: the (C)ommunications CPU and the (A)pplications CPU. C-CPU and A-CPU respectively. They typically communicate over a bus to pass data back and forth between the two chips, so there is a standard interface between the two.

It is pretty straightforward to program for this type of setup because you don't have to worry about what the other chip is doing. It's over there doing its thing while my program is over here doing its thing. The two don't talk so often. Typically, you'll even have two separate operating systems running on the separate chips, that's how far apart they are.

But what will it be like with only one chip, and presumably one memory block? Will the single OS running the chip have to handle all events and interrupts? How much more difficult will it be to write a multitasking phone operating system when such disparate things as mail applications and radio transmissions are handled on the same chip?

I'd love for cell phone prices to come down a little bit. Hopefully this brings the prices down, but if software gets more expensive, it may be a wash.

Re:How will they keep C and A separate? (4, Interesting)

putko (753330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276448)

The new thing is to have a single DSP/processor that can run the OS and the signal processing apps. This allows getting rid of one chip, which is what they are so excited about.

If you imagine that you took what was formerly on two chips and just put them on one, it should make sense that this is quite possible.

You see the same thing with the x86/x87 combination in the Pentiums. Or microcontrollers that now have all the crap you need (except for reset circuit and serial drivers) on one chip.

In the case of the DSP, programming it might be tricky, but so what: some geek does it once, and then you run that software on a million items: however painful it is, it gets amortized.

If you are the processor company, you do it for your customers, so that they can get the silicon out there ASAP, and you get back all your NRE.

Re:How will they keep C and A separate? (2, Interesting)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276509)

I've seen the presentations and am still apprehensive about the effort needed to adapt this.

If it is just a matter of writing another application which can be activated when an interrupt occurs, then it sounds pretty straightforward. As you say, hand it off to the DSP subsystem which TI will provide and let the application run until the user presses X. But during that time, what happens to HW interrupts? Can the CPU handle interrupts (which are likely running at maximum priority) without significantly harming the telephony application?

Or is it going to be like it is now, with a separate small OS handling the processing necessary on the DSP handling all events quickly and efficiently there while the A-CPU side can handle its work without severely impacting the DSP? In this case, I imagine that we are looking at some pretty serious OS modification to get both CPU and DSP up and running.

I'm definitely not an expert in this area. But I like the way the technology is going. I just wish I understood it better.

Re:How will they keep C and A separate? (1)

putko (753330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276674)

I take it back: although set-top guys want to have DSPs that run an OS [linuxdevices.com] , and indeed, programming them may be a real bitch, it looks like the phone guys are solving the problem very simply: two cores with a shared memory interface.

Here's a really easy-to-understand article on what I assume is a similar chip [linuxdevices.com] .

This doesn't appear to be rocket science. The engineers in India have likely just combined the two cores with some shared-memory logic, and then done all the testing and sw development to get it up and running.

It looks to me that the real genius is: getting the manufacturing process so that you can do this level of integration and choosing the right set of features to put into the silicon, so that you get a popular chip.

Re:How will they keep C and A separate? (1)

iamnafets (828439) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276584)

It's possible to have two CPU's in one chip... with all this talk about dual core architecture.

Why is this interesting? (2, Interesting)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276396)

A typical cell phone costs, what, $70-$100 and can do just about anything and has more processing power than most computers 10 years ago. If you strip out all the useless stuff out of a cell phone (you know, to make it, gasp, act just like a phone) I don't see how it can be that much of a challenge to bring it down to the $20 range.

Re:Why is this interesting? (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276418)

"If you strip out all the useless stuff out of a cell phone (you know, to make it, gasp, act just like a phone) I don't see how it can be that much of a challenge to bring it down to the $20 range."

Well, first of all, you're assuming that the "useless stuff" is useless. Believe it or not, many people use their phones as more than just phones.

Second, this article describes *how* they can do just what you are talking about. Larger scale integration means a simpler PCB and fewer chips to manufacture and integrate. That saves costs.

Re:Why is this interesting? (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276460)

Well, first of all, you're assuming that the "useless stuff" is useless. Believe it or not, many people use their phones as more than just phones.

No kidding. Just last week me and a few friends were hanging out at my house drinking a few beers in the backyard after dark. Someone dropped something - keys I think - and he whips out his cell phone, flips it open and uses it as a flash light. The display was blazing like the fucking sun. Found his keys no problem.

Re:Why is this interesting? (1)

_Laban_ (166315) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276595)

Several of the "sportier" Nokia models acually have a small LED-flashlight built in on top of the phone, like the 5140i. :-)

Re:Why is this interesting? (1)

Zen Punk (785385) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276653)

Ha. My cell phone has a built-in LED flashlight which shines out of the top of the phone. It's a great deal brighter than the display. It's a low-end Kyocera Energi.

Re:Why is this interesting? (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276535)

It is useless. I have a fairly modern and decent phone (Motorola V600) and it is crap compared with my significantly older Palm Pilot M515. The calendar is almost useless, and the contacts are a massive pain in the arse... not to mention the limitation that SIM cards place on phone directories if you choose to keep the info on there.

Re:Why is this interesting? (2, Insightful)

KillShill (877105) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276463)

it never was. this current announcement is just smoke and mirrors.

phones have been incredibly cheap to make, cell phones doubly so because of the vast volume they deal in.

it's all irrelevant because you'll never be able to buy a usable cell phone cheaply... because the hardware is tied to the service. the 20 dollar phone looks less cheap when you pay 20-40 bucks a month for service.

honestly, the cell phone "service" looks a lot like inkjet ink. way out of proportion to what it actually costs and what they foist on people to pay. what the market will bear... well this market should stand up and tell them they won't bear it anymore.... well dreams are all we have in these troubling times.

Re:Why is this interesting? (2, Informative)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276601)

Here in the Netherlands I got a phone for like 20 dollars about 4 years ago. I got some free minutes with it.
I still have it. I don't pay a monthly charge. Just pre-pay an amount of money (like 10 dollars) and I get a number of call minutes to use up. As long as I keep a positive balance others can call me without it costing a dime.
In all that time I have put maybe 50 dollars worth of calling minutes into it.

There is not even a time limit to use up the minutes, as long as you make at least one call a year.
(and they do that only to be able to release the number when the phone has somehow been lost or is defective)

Re:Why is this interesting? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276591)

A typical cell phone [...] has more processing power than most computers 10 years ago.


Is that actually true? Are today's typical cell phones more powerful than, say, an i486 PC?


(And if it is, I'd like someone to come out with a cell phone that has a couple of USB ports, a video-out port, a hard drive, and runs Linux, so I can throw away my desktop PC and just plug the phone in to my I/O peripherals whenever I want to do web/email/etc)

Stop Whining (1)

pwhysall (9225) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276645)

And get a Nokia 1100 [nokia.com] . A simple phone for those with simple requirements.

Yeah, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276397)

can I buy one with a couple hundred prepaid minutes anonymously, in cash, and throw it away when I'm done? I don't want to be GPS'ed everywhere I go. Posted anonymously for obvious reasons...

Re:Yeah, but... (2, Funny)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276456)

Ok Osama, I'll get right on to the marketing department to see what we can do.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276672)

Tracfone
$40 "refurbished" phone
$99 one year's service with 400 minutes

There are cheaper cards that last only 60 or 90 days.

Endorsed by major identy theives everywhere.

Bonus: you only pay sales tax on the price of the card, no fscking "universal access fee" crap.

This is a USA centric post.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276675)

I know this is supposed to be a joke, but can anyone elaborate on what the laws are for purchasing a cell phone. The cingular commercial with the asian guy on the skateboard who says "My name (laugh) why do you need to know that?" "Where do I live? (laugh) Anywhere theres concrete!" It makes it sound like you can just buy a phone with cash and a card and make it work. I ask this because I have never owned a cell phone (whoooooo believe it or not) so I want to know what exactly to expect.

Thanks for any responses.

I can see the ads now (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276413)

"Free cellphone with paid membership." Seriously, I've been seeing them for years.

Opposite trends here... (1)

bsquizzato (413710) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276415)

So while companies like TI try to resolve high-cost issues for mobility in developing nations, it seems like the trend here in North America is to see how much crap we can fit in to a $300+ cell phone: Video cameras, terrible quality picture cameras, cellphone PDAs, etc.

Don't get me wrong I like my full-featured cellphones with things like web access for weather, advanced contact lists, text messaging, etc., but nowadays it's hard to find a well built phone without something... unphony... that you end up paying for and not making a good enough use out of.

Wake me up when my service rates go down. (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276425)

I have a $50 cell phone that I have had for 5 years. It has cost me $10 a year. Next year it will be ~ $8/year. The following year, $7/year.

Cheap Phones expensive calls (2, Insightful)

a3217055 (768293) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276435)

Cellular phone calls have to go down in price. Regular land phones are cheap but not everyone on the planet has them, because land lines are expensive. Cheaper cell phones are great what about the price of the phone calls ? And don't believe that crap on digital divide, its called the RICH AND THE POOR divide been there for a long time just labelling it won't change it.

But what's "poor" nowdays? (1)

ag-gvts-inc (844888) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276454)

Seriously, every person that I know on some kind of state assistance has (an older) computer, or game consoles, and all have cable or satellite television. I mean, in my area, you can ditch cable and suddenly afford a $50 USD a month cell phone.

Re:But what's "poor" nowdays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276572)

Yeah, fuck them for spending some of the little money they get on entertainment. Don't they know they're supposed to be huddled around a fire on the street corner. No fun for you, you poor bastards, suffer for your inferiority! Come on, it's not like they're living the high life, just a little bit of relief from the mundane. It's also not like they go out and buy video games every day, they probably had to save up for that stuff like the video game comsole and the satellites are given out free with the service. Basically give em a break, they're already living a shitty life as it is and every minute they spend in front of the tv is one they don't spend out on the street doing something potentially stupid or dangerous. Most poor people also work, they just have terrible paying jobs, even a two income minimum wage families still live at a income low enough to warrant assistance. Watch the episode of "30 days" where they both live on minimum wage.

Re:Cheap Phones expensive calls (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276633)

I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but yesterday I happened to drive by one of the biggest section of housing projects in the city where I live (and no, I wasn't out cruising for dope or hookers), and couldn't believe the number of mini-dish satellite TV antennas stuck on the porches and verandas. It was ridiculous: at least 50% of the apartments had them.

And where a few years ago you'd see lots of people just standing out in front of the buildings or sitting on the steps, now they're almost all using cellphones.

Anyway, just food for thought. My on-topic point is this: cellphones as a technology have already trickled down to all echelons of society here in the U.S., at their current price point. If they price of individual units was to drop to $20 tomorrow, I doubt we'd see any immediate change as consumers, because there's no reason to decrease the price. They've already saturated the market! Especially considering that the market is dominated by a few major players (who I bet have no problem colluding with each other if it kept prices high), I can see the price differential resulting from development in the field going straight into the cell companies' profit margins.

I'm absolutely no fan of government regulation, but my recent experience in buying a cellphone and service agreement have convinced me that something is very wrong with the state of that particular market right now.

Unfortunately for those in developed economies... (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276477)

... the phone companies will continue to charge excessively for the service, and insist on providing over-priced phones with a tonne of other features that the users don't want.

Even more unfortunately... (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276567)

... they will no longer have "lack of technical advancement" as an excuse to have a happy, quiet society where people go from one place to another while communicating only with the people they actually see.

/cancels migration to third-world nation

Does this mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276479)

That there could actually be a cell phone created with both Bluetooth capability AND programmable MP3 ringtones? Don't think I'm going to hold my breath, though...

Big Deal (2, Funny)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276480)

Let me know when service won't cost just as much.

Re:Big Deal (1)

violent.ed (656912) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276561)

let me know when prepraid minutes dont cost as much.. $10 just dosnt go as far as it used to .. my daddy could go to a movie & buy candy+popcorn for less than $0.25US when he was a kid, WTF HAPPENED?!?!

Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276483)

I just bought a GSM cell phone in Germany for 40 Euro(incl. Germany's lovely 16% VAT) and it came with a 15 Euro prepaid card, so really the cost to me was 25 Euro. Cell phones are already pretty cheap, I'm not sure how much this will actually lower their cost....

Too bad the price to make calls is humongous...

a winner (2, Informative)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276492)

If this pans out well, it's good news for India. For a simple reason: India's market size is very price sensitive and highly underleveraged. The Nokia 1110 - the 'MAde in India model' (http://www.nokia.co.in/nokia/0,,45346,00.html [nokia.co.in] ) sells for around USD 60 and has around 25% of the GSM market. Also, since Indian call rates are one of the lowest in the world, ARPUs (avg rev per user) is low, so to the average consumer, the cost of the handset in proportion to her montly cellular oullay is small...

Re:a winner (1)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276604)

My mistake: "the cost of the handset in proportion to her montly cellular oullay is small..." should read "the cost of the handset in proportion to her montly cellular outlay is large.

This matters... why? (-1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276493)

I'm sorry but cell phones are overrated. I've always felt that way. Before I got one from my employer, I always felt that the idiots yammering their useless talk on their cell phones while driving, while shopping or even while sitting at a restaurant having dinner with their spouse fall into that group of people known as "completely useless turds". Now that I have one, I make it a habit to only use it when absolutely neccessary. That would be, on my walk from work to the garage to let my wife know I'm coming home a little late. Or... at home while working with my boss on a server issue at night. That's it. Period. It's never on in the car. I don't carry it into stores with me. And if I was caught with one in a restaurant or movie theater, you'd probably be able to look up and see piggies getting into formation for an air raid on the corrupt Whitehouse. In short, I think cell phones are a tool and nothing more. They're not toys unless you pair them with needless "features' like mp3 players, gaming and cameras. And if you add those features, it's likely that you've reduced its value as a... ummm.. gee... phone!

Now, with all that out of the way, I have to add that the idea of phones that are $20 is more of a problem than a benefit. This is because the current cell phones are so valueless that people seem to lose them, drop them and break them or just trade up to some cool new phone every few months. Because of all the monstrously "cheap" cell phone plans, these users haven't a clue just how much money if being thrown away. The phones they currently have are "free" or "$.01". So do you honestly think that $20 pricepoints are going to matter? It will just make them even more valueless than they are now which means people will see them as even more disposable. Speaking of which... how is this "better" than the morons who came up with the idea of a cell phone that could be printed on paper so as to be disposable? Whatever happened to the days when you would buy something and expect to keep it for a few decades with no loss in features or quality. (think the old dial phones of yore. My in-laws still have the dial phone in their kitchen and use pulse dialing in the rest of the house because it's too much of a waste to get DTMF for $2.00 a month)

God I hate what the United States and this world is becoming. Just a cesspool of self-serving, bastard ingrates who don't give a shit about anyone except themselves. Every one of them deserves a brick in the face.

Re:This matters... why? (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276545)

Well, thanks for letting your opinion be heard. Uh oh - nobody cares.

Re:This matters... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276590)

"Well, thanks for letting your opinion be heard. Uh oh - nobody cares."

You're wrong.

I threw a Coke on some slob who was using a cell phone in the theater last weekend.

Do you think he'll use a cell phone in a theater again, without
nervously looking around to see who might be bothered ?

I doubt it.

Re:This matters... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276671)

Amen brother. Amen. The almighty dollar has turned everyone into souless husks that care for none but themselves. A man's worth is now determined solely by the size of his wallet. These are troubling times... Things were once so much simpler.

What we need is $20 service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13276498)

What's the deal with minute plans, contracts, credit checks, etc? When will the USA finally reach what the rest of the world had in 1995 regarding obtaining affordable service?

Think smaller, not cheaper... (5, Insightful)

GrpA (691294) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276500)

I know it's not the theme of the article, but it's just as obvious...

One chip means smaller and lower power consumption possibilities as well. It goes hand in hand with cheaper.

It will help lead to phones in watches as well as integration into other devices (eg, directly into mobile PC's as a standard chipset for GPRS integration. )

Cheap is nice too, but it's just part of the overall advantage.

GrpA

Interesting Story (2, Interesting)

vectorian798 (792613) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276501)

When I went to India a few years ago to visit relatives, I was surprised to see that they were all toting cell phones (and better ones than my lame Noka 2260 at the time!) and when I asked about their plans I was surprised to know that they had plans with UNLIMITED minutes for very low prices.

I am glad to see that we have innovation that will help connect the rest of the world, but I have to wonder, why the hell can't phones be made here at ultra-low costs? And what of the plans??!?! Everytime I want a deal on a cell phone I have to sign a contract (and these days you get the special deal only on 2 year contracts - read more at end of this post) and am locked into a shitty phone and a shitty plan. BTW if you have seen the list prices of phones (w/out service plan deal, you will notice how ridiculously pricey they are).

Note about 2-year contracts:
The exception I've seen (at amazon.com's cell phone site at least) regarding cell phone contracts is T-Mobile, which requires only a 1 year contract for all their deals. After hearing many horror stories about them I took a chance with them last year and was surprised to have absolutely no problems with reception or dropped calls or whatever here in CA (it seems like those problems were unique to an earlier range of phone models only). I once made a call to change the plan to a family plan and was also impressed by their AWESOME tech support, which doesn't go to some cheap call-center overseas like ATT.

Let's edit the original post for reality... (2, Insightful)

FredThompson (183335) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276575)

"thus making cellphones more affordable in developing economies"

should read:

"thus reducing the cost to manufacture cell phones"

The term "affordable" is objective, not subjective.

Theoretically, this should allow reduction in price in ALL markets.

Dial-A-Bomb (-1, Flamebait)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276597)

Cheap phones = cheap remote detonators.

What ever happened to the honor of strapping some C4 to your chest and manually blowing yourself up...errr...wait a sec..... Terrorist have no honor.

Ok ok, so let me make my point more clear. At what point will technology become so cheap and simple to use, that it will make terrorism that much more effective and efficient. I'm not advocating tight controls of such technology. However, I am pointing out that we are living in some very interesting times and will continue to do so in the future.

Re:Dial-A-Bomb (3, Insightful)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276623)

> At what point will technology become so cheap and simple to use, that it will make terrorism that much more effective and efficient.

About 40 years ago.
Any terrorist that needs to wait for a big company to release sub $20 mobile phones before he can make a cheap remote detonator isn't trying.
A 7 year old could make a cheap remote detonator from parts bought at Radio Shack with his or her pocket money.

Feeding the troll, just in case someone agrees. (5, Insightful)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276628)

You're an idiot. This has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. If you're going to kill people, you're not going to be stopped by having to pay an extra 30 bucks for a phone, and a remote detonator can be rigged up for the cost of a remote control car and a screwdriver already.

But even if that weren't the case, stop making every fucking thing about terrorism. You're making us all dumber.

So... (3, Interesting)

greenhybrid (882786) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276620)

So they can make tiny cellphones that connect opposite ends of the earth for $20, yet a VHS-sized scientific calculator with a funky green screen costs $100? Hm...

Cost wont drop... (1)

Komarosu (538875) | more than 9 years ago | (#13276652)

I doubt this will reduce the cost of mobile phones, if anything it will just make the likes of Nokia and Samsung even more profit.

in the UK, Mobiles are already stupidly expensive, so much so to get a top of the range phone you have to get it on a contract to cut 90% of the cost of it. Having a contract is like a loan these days... pay for your phone over 12 or 18 months.

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