Smart unveils Netphone

In line with its “Internet for All” advocacy, Smart Communications Inc. unveiled here at the 2011 GSMA Mobile World Congress a breakthrough smartphone specifically designed for the emerging market, the Netphone, last Saturday.

The device is not only about the handset, according to Smart spokesman Ramon Isberto, it is the entire concept that aims to make the Internet accessible to a greater number of people.

“It is not the phone, but what’s in the phone. The Netphone is the entire package of services Smart provides, the easy bite-sized access to the Web and the price,” he says.

Powered by the Android 2.2 Froyo operating system, one of the most popular operating systems today, the Netphone can be customized by users according to their needs. It has its own branded software and applications relevant to emerging market customers, according to Smart.

Smart’s apps shop

It comes with a suite of applications exclusively from, and managed by, Smart. It provides users one-touch, one-screen access to the most popular communications and social networking sites, and relevant customer account services.

In a statement, Smart says the Netphone provides simultaneous access to Facebook, Twitter and MYGroups social networks. It combines Yahoo Messenger, Facebook Chat and other chat services in one seamless interface.

Users can also find out their prepaid airtime balance in one touch.

All these are compliant with the specifications of Android and the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), a global alliance of the world’s leading telcos, operators, applications developers, handset manufacturers and operating systems owners, which defines the open industry applications standards.

Because it is powered by the Android 2.2 OS and is WAC, the Netphone can also access the entire Android market and other apps stores.

It is especially designed to enable users to access the Internet in “bite size,” allowing them to go straight to the services they need in one touch and in the shortest time possible, thereby wasting no airtime in going through various processes.

Smart has teamed up with Chinese phone maker Huawei for the Netphone. The telco took part in the design of the handsets manufactured by Huawei to ensure that the devices are in accordance with Netphone specifications.

Making sure it will be affordable to many, the Netphones will retail for about P5,000 to P7,000.

New revenue source

With its price, services and bite-size Internet offering, Smart is confident the Netphone will be a hit, unlocking another revenue stream for the company.

“With the NetPhone, Smart can rapidly deploy new widgets, applications and services over the air, continually enhance the Netphone’s value to our subscribers and, in the process, create healthy revenue streams,” said Smart president and CEO Napoleon L. Nazareno in a statement.

“By providing easy, bite-sized access to the Web, the Netphone perfectly complements our Internet for All advocacy. Designed for emerging-market phone users, this device further democratizes access to the Internet just as Smart led in putting cell phones in the hands of millions of Filipinos,” said Orlando B. Vea, Smart chief wireless adviser, in the same statement.

Being an operator-managed system, Smart will be able to manage its suite of software and applications, push new mobile services to subscribers over the air, and even prioritize software updates.

The Netphone fits perfectly with another Smart offering, “the Internet in sachet,” which offers a P1 per minute access to the Web. It makes sure every P1 spent is actually used for the intended purpose.

“Smartphones are powering tremendous growth in mobile Internet usage. Last month, Smart began offering our subscribers a line of affordable Android-powered smartphones combined with even more affordable mobile Internet rates. The introduction of our Netphone, also at an attractive price point offering relevant services, is a major enhancement of our strategy to unlock this new revenue stream,” said Danilo J. Mojica, Smart wireless consumer division head.

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