A preferential deal that Vodafone has secured with handset manufacturer Motorola reveals the growing clout of the multinational mobile operator.
Motorola’s latest mass-market handset, the C330, (pictured) will be available exclusively to Vodafone customers at launch and only Vodafone customers will be able to avail of some of the phone’s features once it is sold by other operators and as a stand-alone unit.
The new phone represents a design first insofar as users can change the phone’s shape with removable casings as well as its cover colours. Four different shapes in a variety of colours will be available for the phone and Motorola will be marketing the phone on the basis that its users can create the illusion they have more than one handset.
Speaking at the launch, Chris Stewart, business manager for Motorola Personal Communications Ireland, revealed the global deal with Vodafone. One design shape for the phone, the smallest form factor, will be available only to Vodafone customers. The parts necessary to transform any other form factor to this one will not be for sale on the open market.
According to Stewart, Motorola is aiming high with the new handset. He identified the 18-24-year-old market segment as its target and mentioned the hugely successful Nokia 3310 and 3410 handsets as Motorola’s main competition.
Aside from the phone’s shape-changing ability, other features include polyphonic ringtones, GPRS (general packet radio service), EMS (enhanced messaging service) and a lithium-ion battery. Stewart said that the changeable shells, ringtones and logos ought to be a big revenue driver for mobile networks. The phone will be available for sale in the coming fortnight and has a recommended retail price of €200 for pre-pay customers and €50 for contract customers.
Motorola’s Design Centre in Cork has played an integral role in the creation of the company’s new phone. According to John Quigley, director of the design centre, the Cork team liaised with the phone’s design team in Texas and shared the development of four key parts of the phone’s chipset. These are: the digital signal processor, the radio frequency transceiver, the power management integrated circuit and the power amplifier.
“There is immense pressure to introduce very smart, intelligent phones, but at a very low cost. The C330 is a design breakthrough for Motorola in that it is a sophisticated offering but had a low bill of materials for its manufacture,” Quigley said.
In a related development, rival phone manufacturer Siemens yesterday introduced its new S55 handset featuring Bluetooth technology, MMS and a detachable camera with an integrated flash. All of this points to a very interesting Christmas market for phone buyers and mobile phone companies, as consumers will be greeted with a broad array of smart phones and camera phones from all the various manufacturers.
By Dick O’Brien and John Kennedy