It might be a flight of fancy, but we don’t think so. This idea of a US$10 cell phone might be a reality.
We’ve heard stories about this before, but now we have some details that lead us to believe that something concrete might be in the offing. The folks at CITRIS, which is the Berkeley Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, are actively pursuing cell phone makers in Taiwan for the very-low-cost phone project, with an eye toward the developing world but also for people who want absolutely no flash on their phones.
One of the manufacturers on CITRIS’s short list is Quanta Computer, a prime mover in the One Laptop Per Child program. That in itself is news, since that project is very much moving forward and is producing an ordinarily expensive device in an inexpensive way.
We’ve also seen Ultra Low Cost Handsets from the GSM Association in Asia and South America. And we’ve seen the MOTOFONE. One of the latest innovations from Motorola, makers of that MOTOFONE, was the bicycle charger, which theoretically eliminates the need for electricity and for the phone charger itself, which is expensive to replace (especially a couple times when you leave it in a hotel room).
The US$10 price tag might be the ticket, though. That’s low enough to capture the popular imagination, and the people who can just barely afford it won’t miss a camera or an MP3 player.