Synchronica and KC Mobile target emerging markets with low-cost MessagePhone

Synchronica and Korean manufacturer KC Mobile have revealed the MessagePhone, a low-cost messaging device that delivers smartphone-like functionality and messaging services at lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than similar products – with the result that the MessagePhone is being targeted towards emerging markets.

With the advent of the MessagePhone, operators in emerging markets will be able to provide mobile data services to the mass market, as well as combat churn. Available in two models, the MessagePhone is distributed by Brightstar and offers advanced features, such as push email and synchronisation services, mobile instant messaging, a full HTML web browser, and access to social networking sites.

The Java-enabled handsets feature a full QWERTY keyboard, large colour LCD screen, MP3 and MPEG4 player, camera, SD memory expansion, a robust personal information manager, optional Bluetooth connectivity, USB connector, and a built-in FM radio. The phone is sold as a turnkey, integrated solution with an all-inclusive price as low as US$ 99.

The MessagePhone comes bundled with a complete suite of infrastructure services providing a comprehensive and affordable mobile messaging and internet experience for users across Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, and is designed to function as the primary internet device for users who don't have frequent access to a PC.

The underlying Mobile Gateway messaging services integrate with the operator network, connecting the MessagePhone to mail servers, social networking sites, IM communities, and RSS web feeds. Unlike messaging solutions of leading smartphone vendors, the Mobile Gateway platform uses open industry standards and supports virtually any device from any manufacturer, enabling carriers to extend the service to other devices and across their entire subscriber base.

Commenting on MessagePhone, Nick Jotischky, Principal Analyst, Informa, said: "The MessagePhone solution provides operators in emerging markets with a significant addressable market that can help them to win the battle for identity management. The device-centric solution provides benefits to operators desperate to offset falling voice revenues by increasing the size of revenues generated from data services and to retain existing customers at a time when users are becoming more fickle."

According to data collected by Informa, monthly churn in Africa averaged approximately 4.8 percent in September 2009, with churn rates in Kenya and Tanzania having reached an astonishing 9.2 percent and 11.4 percent respectively.

Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Synchronica commented: "With MessagePhone, we have created a device and service bundle that provides an answer to key challenges faced by operators and delivers affordable aspiration for customers in emerging markets. For the operators, we have delivered a messaging-centric handset that puts them back in control of their subscriber base - they can brand the product and use the services to reduce churn. For subscribers, MessagePhone can become their first and primary internet device - a great phone with a large screen and full internet access without breaking the bank, potentially replacing the trek to the internet cafe."

J. Jung, CEO at KC Mobile, added: "The MessagePhone has been designed from the ground up to provide operators in emerging markets with a low-cost, yet high-quality, full-featured next-generation messaging device. With two significant operators already having signed contracts, we are confident that MessagePhone will appeal to a broad cross section of operators in emerging markets."

MessagePhone is available in two versions, the QS150 and the QS200:

MessagePhone QS150

  • Messaging and browsing device with VGA camera and MP3 player
  • 2.2" QVGA 262K TFT LCD
  • 2.5G (GPRS) - GSM tri-band, not quad-band
  • Bundled push email service (users can have up to four email accounts)
  • Contact list and calendar synchronization
  • Bolt web browser, IM client, and social networking
  • Support for Java MIDP 2.0
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • 10 MB user memory
  • MicroSD card slot (up to 4 GB)
  • 5.5 hours talk time, 17 days standby

MessagePhone QS200

  • Messaging and browsing device with camera (1.3 megapixel), MP3 player, Bluetooth, and FM radio
  • 2.2" QVGA 262K TFT LCD
  • 2.75G (GPRS / EDGE) - GSM quad-band
  • Bundled push email service (users can have up to five email accounts)
  • Contact list and calendar synchronization
  • Bolt web browser, IM client, and social networking
  • Support for Java MIDP 2.0
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • 32 MB user memory
  • MicroSD card slot (up to 4 GB)
  • 5.5 hours talk time, 17 days standby

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