The Death of Feature Phones?
Sony recently announced that it was paying over 1.05 billion euros to buy out Ericsson, it’s partner in the mobile phone sector. They also commented that this acquisition would bring a change in direction for the company as they phase out feature phones and concentrate solely on producing new smartphones.
Techi.com claims: “Sony has unofficially declared the death of feature phones…It’s a trend that is likely to continue to hit other manufacturers.”
Meanwhile, Nokia has just released the Asha range – A new lineup of feature phones targeted at the emerging markets. Nokia plans to phase out the Symbian operating system over the next few years and, as a result, this new range of phones run on S40. Despite being advertised as feature phones, engadget states that the Asha phones “will blur the line between featurephone and smartphone”. For example, apps are very popular on S4o – Nokia say that “The Nokia Store does 10 million downloads a day, of which a third are coming from our Series 40 mobile phones.” This looks set to increase as game developer Rovio will be introducing a new version of the massively popular Angry Birds for the S40 platform.
All in all, this does look like the beginning of the end of the feature phone – Despite their popularity in developing countries, smartphones outsold feature phones in the US for the first time this year which can be largely attributed to Android and iOS making the technology available to the mass market.
However, the enormous growth in smartphone sales this year should not distract us from the fact that feature phone sales still outnumber smartphones 4:1 so it will certainly be a while before the feature phone is gone for good.