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Saturday, 7 March 2009

Acer to corner the market on cheap smartphones

Acer to corner the market
Interesting news from the world of Windows Mobile, now, as according to a story on The Register, Acer may be about to corner the market on cheap smartphones. As in really cheap smartphones. As in Windows Mobile phones that cost less than €49 (about £43)…

Er. Crikey. When you consider that my X1 costs in the region of £500, sim-free, that’s really quite an astonishing price.

It seems the phones, the Acer C1 and E1, going to be punted direct to the networks, who’d very possibly put their own branding on, in the same way that the T-Mobile G1 is actually made by HTC. Either way, though, that looks to be a startlingly cheap price for a proper, fully-fledged smartphone. Not only that, but Acer have confirmed they’ll come with Windows Mobile 6.5, the newest, slickest version, which given the price, is even more surprising. Unlike the vast majority of smartphones out there, they’re also saying the C1 and E1 will come in a range of different, funky colours.

So, with things like an improved user interface, and flashily-painted bodies, it gives us a bit of an insight into exactly what these two Acer phones are.

The words “My First Smartphone” are merrily rushing towards my lips…

And that’s a brilliant idea, in principle, there’s no doubt about that. If you want to get users to jump from cheap feature phones to smartphones, what better way to encourage them to do it than to make a smartphone cheaper to get than a feature phone, right? And yes, that is a brilliant idea, but… I can see a potential problem.

Take a look at the Toshiba TG01. It’s uber-powerful, and unless something pops up in the meantime, it’ll be the most powerful Windows Mobile phone in the world when it’s launched, with that stupidly fast 1GHz processor. I’ll bet you any money, though, that it comes in at a similar price to my X1, sim-free. Power ain’t cheap.

So at about 43 quid, which implies a much lower cost to make them, how powerful, exactly, can the Acer C1 and E1 actually be?

I really hope they can stick some serious power in them, even at that price, because Windows Mobile needs a lot of processing guts to make it a nice, usable operating system. I really hope the low price doesn’t compromise that, because I really want these phones to succeed. I’m genuinely excited about seeing what they’re like, but… well, they may be many people’s first smartphone, but unless they’re really nice, they might end up being many people’s last smartphone, as well.

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