Smart Feature Phones Could Connect Billions
The cost of Apple and Samsung's smartphones have excluded billions of people; however, the next major innovation will provide these people with an affordable option.
Over 3.4 billion people cannot access the internet - an opportunity smart feature phones will seize. For only $25 or $2.50 a month, people can own smart feature phones. Along with calling and texting, these phones have cheap data plans that can access essential apps and the internet. Companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google have adjusted their apps to accommodate these phones.
As imagined, for only $25, smart feature phones have some drawbacks. The phones are slower, less powerful, and have smaller screens. They have a basic camera and little memory compared to Apple's newest iPhones.
In 2016, 25 million smart feature phones were sold, and sales are expected to hit 84 million this year. Analysts estimate that at least 370 million phones will be sold over the next three years, which creates a $28 billion opportunity for hardware and software companies.
Reliance Jio, an Indian telecom company, jumped on this market. In 2016, they realized that millions of people were not using data because they could not afford a smartphone. As a result, the company developed the JioPhone, a smart feature phone, that has sold more than 60 million phones in India alone.
Other companies are beginning to compete with Reliance Jio. French mobile operator Orange launched a smart feature phone with cheap mobile plans in Africa and the Middle East. Also, Indonesian manufacturer WizPhone offers a phone for $7. Finland's HMD Global Oy offers a phone for a one-time payment of $100, which hit an niche audience in their country.
Although smartphone sales hit 1.5 billion units last year, they cost upwards of $300 without mentioning the cost of a data plan. Smart feature phones may not only cater to a new audience, but also might steal smartphone users who do not need their phone to have more computing ability than the Apollo 11.
Written by James Mueller & Edited by Alexander Fleiss