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Why Cheap Smartphones Are Going To Upset the Industry 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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Why Cheap Smartphones Are Going To Upset the Industry

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  • by anubi ( 640541 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @05:26AM (#47030417) Journal
    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...
  • by cheekyboy ( 598084 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @05:53AM (#47030475) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @05:55AM (#47030479) Homepage

    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.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @06:27AM (#47030541)
    You do realize that Africa is far from being this homogeneous place where everyone has the same problems?
  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @06:33AM (#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:Only in USA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HuguesT ( 84078 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @06:56AM (#47030603)

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

  • Re:Sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @07:55AM (#47030719) Journal
    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.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @08:02AM (#47030727)
    Nobody (except maybe you) wants 3 SD cards in their phone. CEOs know what they're doing.
  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @08:26AM (#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?

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @09:17AM (#47030969) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @09:43AM (#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.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @12:45PM (#47032347) Homepage

    You have been able to get"free" or $59 or $99 smartphones for the past 5 years.
    There is nothing at all new about this, they were last year models or strip down models. EXACTLY what they are proposing.

    Next up on Slashdot we discuss something from 5 years ago as if it is going to happen soon!

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."