What's the point?
Posted Mar 9, 2012 11:07 UTC (Fri) by khim
In reply to: What's the point?
Parent article: Mozilla announces HTML5-based phone
For really cheap phones every cent matters.
True. That's why 80% of phones sold in the world today are dumbphones. People just don't buy smartphones if they don't need smartphone capabilities. But if they do then they, of course, will compare price/performance ratio, not just price.
If Mozilla can push these specs down to something like 128 mb RAM, 256 mb of storage and a 400 Mhz SOC it might really have a winner.
Nope. As I've said: in 2006, 2007, may be in 2008 - this will be huge. Today? It's pointless. Most phone SOCs today are designed with Android in mind. Otherwise tens of millions of sales are not guaranteed. And custom chip just for B2G will be more expensive! That's why B2G is trying to piggyback on Android hardware! But if it uses Android hardware then this hardware is android-capable by definition!
SOC and RAM prices matter a lot otherwise MS wouldn't have crippled Windows Mobile Phone 7.5 Series Second Enterprise Edition to be able to run on 256mb devices.
It's matter of timing. If you want to ship device right now, today, then 256MB is somewhat cheaper then 512MB (and 1GB is significantly more expensive), but 128MB make no sense already. Year from now it'll be 512MB for cheapest reasonable option and 1GB will be only marginally more costly. Two (perhaps three) years from now 1GB will be reasonable minimum.
Moore's law makes things cheaper, but it does not mean you can buy cheaper and cheaper chips: manufacturers usually prefer to sell more complex chip for the same (or almost the same) price. And contemporary state-of-the-art processes are incredibly expensive: they can produce very cheap SOCs… but only if you measure quantities in tens of millions. Go to single digit millions - and it's suddenly significantly more expensive, go to hundreds of thousands - and price will go through the roof!
If you build millions and millions of these things every cent matters, no doubt about it.
Sales matter more. If you don't know if you can sell “millions and millions” of these devices then you can get cheap prices only if you are ready to buy tens of millions of SOCs without buyers for the phones. Note that totally cumulative sales of Windows Phone 7 sales are yet to reach 10 million (they are about to cross that line… 1.5 years after start of the sales). Mozilla probably has enough money in bank to try that, but then it'll be stuck with one particular SOC for a long, long time. No a way to win the war.
The times when low spec mattered are long gone. It was important capability 15 years ago (when low-spec PalmOS ruled the PDA world), but today it's no longer a problem to solve.
This concentration on low-spec phones is classic "fight the last war": you can sell existing, established platform using this selling point (that's why Symbian, Samsung Wave and others are still around), but it matters only for large, yet constantly shrinking market which makes it stupid for the new platform development.
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