Intel Developer Blog: A look at what cheaper smartphones could mean for developers

Is 2013 the year of the affordable smartphone?

Realistically, mobile consumers have few choices when it comes to choosing a mobile phone (whether smart, or not). I’m paying around £30 per month over 2 years and have the luxury of the latest smartphone in my pocket; my other choice would have been to pay a fixed sum for a phone with no-contract on a pay-as-you-go basis. The second option means I would have to pay for the phone up front, so for say an top of the range smartphone fresh from the supplier I’d be looking at around £530 plus the cost of running the phone (data charges, for example can be very expensive).

This month there’s been a lot of buzz in the news about the arrival of a new genre of mobile – the ‘affordable smartphone’. Manufacturers such as Intel are increasingly looking to satisfy the gap in the market for a phone that is both useful in the context of today’s available technology (i.e. email, 3G, 4G, GPS, mapping, app compatibility) and at the same time make it affordable to more people. After all – smartphones are now fundamental to information access, so why not make them widely available to countries with a growing thirst for technology such as those in India, Latin America, and Africa?

At CES 2013 Intel announced the release of the Atom Z2420 Lexington mobile processor which is specifically aimed at emerging markets. This is a good thing and is undoubtedly going to help drive competition, and more competition equals more innovation and ultimately therefore better products at lower prices. The chip will be available for Acer, Lava, and Safaricom phones and will of course have full support for Android apps.

In emerging markets such as India, Latin America and Africa price is of course a major issue. Overwhelming portions of their populations are excluded from the market due to the price of the handsets or contracts, yet the demand for devices that operate on a ‘smart’ level is huge in these countries. Intel are both enabling and assisting with this phenomenon. Intel believes that the “value” smartphones could number 500 million by 2015.

This is great news for developers as it means a new wave of app-thirsty users are about to swarm towards the app market, particularly in terms of those users upgrading from basic handsets to their first smartphones. Given the wide and varied nature of Android for example it’s more than likely that the huge growth we’re already seeing around this platform will continue to grow.

We the users have more choice and are no longer pushed to one end of the phone spectrum. With Mobile World Congress 2013 just around the corner it’ll be interesting to see what the mobile world reveals in terms of their strategy in respect to engaging with the emerging mobile market.

• This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.

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