Spice Corp Ltd., a leading Indian telecommunications company, showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the world's cheapest handset, dubbed the "People's Phone". This new device comes without a display and it's clearly targeted for those who only want to make phone calls and do not care for other features.
The People's Phone is "just a phone", similar to a landline phone in functionality but having the advantage of being mobile and using GMS networks. The device will retail for a price of less than 20 USD (about 12 Euro) and its producer hopes to sell millions of units in India (plus other Asian markets) after its launching, planned for March 2008. The handset will also come with low calling rates, making it perfect for new low-budget mobile subscribers that come from small towns and rural areas.
Another affordable device presented by Spice is the Braille Phone, which looks exactly like the People's Phone but it's specially created for users who suffer from severe visual impairment. The handset's keys have braille numbers on them instead of "painted" numbers, enabling blind persons to make phone calls with ease. The Braille Phone comes for the same price of less than $20.
Besides the two basic phones, Spice also presented the Movie Phone, being the first mobile phone that can play movies on a disc. It also offers music capabilities and, of course, it comes at a higher price.
With more than 200 million mobile subscribers in 2007, India is one of the largest mobile markets in the world. Moreover, its mobile users number will grow quickly in the next years, making the 1.1 billion population country one of the most important for any mobile manufacturer. As in any emerging market, affordable handsets have the highest demand, since most of the people will not spend too much money on unessential technology.
Spice tries to take advantage of this fact with the People's Phone, and I believe it will be successful in its attempt. Make and receive calls, then put the phone back in your pocket - this is all users need after all.