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Two winners


One place where the economic downturn has had a benefit is the London Underground. It’s far less crowded. I find I always get a little space to myself even if it’s not a seat. And I don’t even have to resort to a sombrero, facemask and a cough.

Last week I was hanging next to a couple of girls. One had a Blackberry, the other a Nokia 1110. They are both best selling phones which goes to show how interesting a place the world is. The Blackberry is the best selling phone in the US, having recently beaten the iPhone. It’s not a straight fight because the iPhone is only available through AT&T and the Blackberry is on everything including iDen. More to the point who would buy an iPhone in May when there is a new one rumoured for June. The Bill of Materials for a Blackberry must be something like $300.

To my left the girl with the 1110 had the best selling phone in the world. The simplest of phones. It’s tougher than the Blackberry with a keypad that’s resistant to dirt, and the black and white screen is easier to read in bright sunlight. It’s the Model T Ford of the mobile phone world. Built for the rutted streets of the world and has a bill of materials of around $30.

It’s generally held that most of the world is going to move towards phones like the Blackberry. That the Nokia 1110  will no longer be the thing people aspire to but that misses the point.

Several points in fact. It’s quite normal for people to have both. Work might issue you with a Blackberry but you’ll want something cheap and simple for your own phone. A phone that’s close to free on pre-pay often fits that bill, but more importantly the new growth is going to come from cheaper and cheaper phones. They need to be robust, so while the Model T ford put America on the road it’s the Tatra Nano which will do that

That’s not to say that the emerging markets don’t want the features of the Blackberry, which is where they can learn the lessons of the 1110.

A device which was a bit tougher than a Bold 8900, with a keyboard that was dust and damp resistant, the de-rigueur flashlight, keypads that support Kanji, Arabic, Urdu and Hindi and then you have the device for the emerging markets.

The best selling device isn’t one or the other of the phones my fellow tube travellers were holding, it won’t be a combination of the two, although I advocate that.

What we need to expect is that all phones will sell in smaller quantities as they become more adapted to the people who use them.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column  the previous Friday by subscribing here. Follow me on Twitter here.



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