The entrance of the Android powered IDEOS phone by Huawei to the mobile phone market has put a smile on many faces. In Kenya, for example, the device was recently launched by Safaricom, the country’s leading telecommunications provider, and consumers have since been streaming into mobile outlets to grab their hands on what may be their first real opportunity to own an Android powered device. Many in the developing world are familiar with the iPhone and the features that this and other main stream smart-phones offer, but something about Android is creating a buzz and Android platform could be in the process of opening up a host of possibilities to the somewhat forgotten market.
In many developing nations, the average cost of living makes owning an smart-phone such as the iPhone or a high end Android powered device more of a luxury than a necessity. Make no mistake, devices such as the iPhone are admirable and may be the dream phone for many mobile users in developing nations. However, in some parts of the world, most mobile users are not capable of sustaining the monthly plans that come with such devices, they simply pay for data access per MB and pay for calls by the minute or second. Plus many would rather go for a cheaper phone that they can pay for once, rather than be tied to a monthly agreement for the next year or so. It is a rarity to come across an iPhone in such countries.
Demand for Smart-phones
The need for a common mobile platform has always been there and manufacturers such as Nokia and Sam-sung have had a field day making affordable smart phones such as the Nokia 5800. Such devices have been so diverse in terms of the platform they run on and some have barely addressed the needs of these smart-phone users. With each manufacturer advocating that their platform is the best, mobile developers have had a tough time choosing which platform to develop on. Developers have more often than not settled on J2ME or Java based apps that can be supported by most of these phones.
Finally, Android devices are within the reach of the average consumer in the developing nation. For once, the common citizen can use a device that runs on the same platform as those in developed nations. Developers can now develop apps on a platform that benefits their local market and provides potential for a global outreach. Users can now own a device and be assured that they will get apps that are useful to them and not just apps that are meaningful to some teenager in a developed region. We are slowly moving away to the culture of valuing a mobile phone based on its cost. The question is “What version of Android can your device run?”
The IDEOS device
I took a good look the IDEOS phone – although it’s slightly limited in its specs (couldn’t get Google Goggles running – I stand corrected),the move to launch such an appropriate device at a subsidised cost is a step in the right direction. If you ever wanted a phone that does more than the normal phone and stands out in terms of what you can do with it, then get the IDEOS! I look forward to our local mobile providers launching more of such products that put Kenyan developers at par with our global counterparts.