20 OctAndroid - G1, iPhone News |
If the iPhone’s price tag puts it too far out of your reach, two other serious contenders are waiting in the wings - and neither has anything to do with Microsoft.
The first phone, based on Google’s Android platform, goes on sale in the US on Wednesday and Australian carriers are examining the device with interest following rave reviews from critics.
As well, Hutchison subsidiary Three is working on its own brand of smart phone called INQ, which will compete with the iPhone, Android and handsets from Nokia and Motorola.
Three’s local spokeswoman Sarah Virtue said the company planned to launch INQ in Australia “prior to Christmas”. She added that Google’s Android was “an excellent platform” and that Three would be “keeping a close eye on it”.
Optus declined to comment on its Android plans. Telstra said it was considering “how an Android phone might fit into our range” and Vodafone said it was following Android developments “with keen interest”.
BusinessWeek reported that Hutchison’s goal with INQ was to slash the price of phones that let people surf the net. The handsets were expected to cost consumers $US50 ($72) or less.
People buying an iPhone would pay carriers that amount or more every month over a two-year contract.
The move makes sense for Three because the more people there are who can afford phones capable of surfing the net, the more the company will make from the mobile plans and data bundles it sells to consumers.
“I need to hit the 90 per cent that don’t buy [higher-priced phones],” Hutchison executive Frank Meehan told BusinessWeek.
The popularity of smartphones such as the iPhone, Android, INQ and BlackBerry handsets is growing rapidly in Australia.
Research released by Telesyte today revealed Australia’s annual smartphone shipments have grown by almost 40 times from five years ago and that nearly three in ten mobile phones sold this year will be smartphones.
In addition to being cheap, the INQ phones, which like Android have been built from the ground up with new software, have been designed to hook directly into Facebook, eBay and Skype, with users able to monitor their Facebook news feed from the home screen.
Last year, Three launched its first branded handset, the Skypephone, which allowed Skype users to call each other without running down their monthly mobile cap.
The first handset based on Google’s Android platform, the G1, will be sold by T-Mobile for $US179 on a two-year contract, which is also significantly cheaper than the iPhone.