In a recent interview with the Technews website, All Things D, Yves Maitre, the Vice-President of Devices at European Mobile operator Orange said that current mobile operating systems are not lightweight enough in both cost and bandwidth usage to be a feasible option in developing countries.
He believes that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android has created a strong market for consumers of mid to high-end phones, however, this line-up of devices will not be feasible in the “6 billion” potential users of smartphones in the emerging markets of India and China because it will be hard to support either the varied data-heavy plans or the expensive feature-rich devices.
Maitre used the analogy of the automobile industry in order to better explain the current state of Smart phones. He said that when he was growing up in France, the big-block eight cylinder cars from Detroit were always something that was held in in awe by the general populace. However, as soon as the world realized that they were on a brink of an energy crisis of sorts, the gas guzzling automobiles from America were dropped in favour of a much more economical four or six cylindered car options coming from Japan. The case with smart phones was the same, except we can replace the resource for bandwidth, he said.
Even Google’s open Android OS, which has enabled Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to produce relatively cheaper mobile handsets, is still considered unfeasible since it continues to be highly resource-intensive. This is primarily because these manufacturers are in constant competition with Apple’s iOS and adding new features seems to be the only way to stay in the market.
Thus it is seen in various emerging markets that though smart draw the attention of a sizeable populace, potential customers lack the resources to buy the higher end feature rich devices and pay for data services.
Orange has set $80 as the maximum limit for customers from “developing” markets such as India and China to be able to afford such devices. Thus, they are looking at a variety of operating systems that could accommodate low-cost handsets such as Mozilla’s Boot-to-Gecko, Linux-based Tizen and other Chinese variants for Android.
Maitre also points out how bandwidth, not unlike gas is slowly becoming a limited commodity. Currently, less than one billion active users consume a paltry less than a gigabyte of data per month. But soon enough, if everyone can gain access to a smartphone, more than 6 billion people will vie for the same limited bandwidth.