Vodafone Revamps Handsets To Break Cost Barriers

Vodafone has announced the design and service refresh of three own-brand handsets, intended to offer mobile and data services to emerging markets, including money transfer, the mobile internet and a localised content offering. The handsets are due to enter the market from Spring 2011.

The Vodafone 252 is a refresh of last year’s low cost handset, with the same feature set of colour display and standard voice and text functions, as well as mobile-based money transfer service M-PESA preloaded. The Vodafone 351 comes with pre-loaded Opera Mini to access mail and internet, an FM radio, a camera and 2MB of memory which can be supplemented via a Micro SD card. The third option, the Vodafone 455 is an entry-price, touchscreen phone with a contemporary design. Also running Opera Mini for internet browsing, the phone has a 2.4-inch colour screen, a 1.3MP camera, FM radio and a music player.Vodafone says that Opera Mini was selected due to its ability to run over lower capacity mobile networks, by compressing data by approximately 90 per cent. 
Patrick Chomet, Vodafone’s group director of terminals, comments: “Across the world, we are seeing significant changes in how people use their mobile phones to access the internet and other data services, but those changes are not evenly distributed – data penetration in India is at just 6 per cent compared to 37 per cent in Europe. By lowering the price and technology barriers to access, the handsets we’re announcing today will let many more customers in emerging markets participate in and benefit from next generation mobile services.”

Vodafone also confirms that its M-PESA service currently transfers over $500m per month, is used by 20m customers and will soon be introduced to India.