Are 'dumb phones' dead? Vodafone would like to think so.

18 May 2011

the vodaphone smart. Or is that a misnomer?

The chief executive of the Vodafone Group, Vittorio Colao, has apparently sounded the death knell of the ‘dumb phone’ in the UK. According to the Telegraph, he said: "In three to four years' time we won't be talking about smartphones any more because every phone will be a smartphone and dumb phones [that can only call and text] will no longer exist."

Mr Colao then stamped his foot and shouted a lot* as he said he saw it as his "mission" to place a smartphone in the hands of 70pc of the world's population.  This sounds much less painful than his comments in Vodafone’s Annual Report, which showed a 9.5% increase in pre-tax profits to £9.5billion, that he has “continued to increase the penetration of smartphones into our customer base” oo-er.

Mr Colao doesn’t aim low either. He described the UK as “smartphone land” with more than 90% of contract customers signing a smartphone contract in the three months to the end of March, but what he really wants is “to drive 70% smartphone take up in emerging markets as well."

His big idea is to create of smartphones costing less than €100 (£87)  which would help drive uptake in India and Africa. His vision is for customers in developing countries to be offered small daily data packages similar to "mini shampoo bottles found in hotels". Call me an old cynic, but perhaps offering them food, development aid or even actual mini bottles of shampoo might help many of the inhabitants of Africa or India a natz more.

Anyway, in an amazing coincidence of timing, the death of the smartphone just so happened to occur at almost the exact same time that Vodafone’s new smart phone, imaginatively called ‘Smart’ was launched. And don’t you worry your pretty little heads about its technical specs, “The Vodafone Smart will be rolled out in a range of colours – from cool monochromes, through bold brights, to bespoke graphic designs. What’s more, customers will be able to personalise their phone, creating their own one-off covers on the web. With spring/summer and autumn/winter cover ranges planned, customers can build up a cover collection to suit their style and spirit.” So that’s alright then.

*this may be dramatic embellishment on my part.

TOPICS:   Mobile


  • phoner
    You are dead wrong about food and development aid. Sure, there are places where food and aid are desperately needed but there are also many places where a mobile is a life saver : farmers can get access to veterinary information, they can see crop prices at marketplaces, that kind of thing. Smartphones can have a huge impact on the economy - it helps to take people away from needing aid in the first place.
  • Phil
    Wrong - My parents won't have one even if its free. Heck text messaging was hard enough for them to start using. Some people don't want this stuff - heck my mum didn't even want to switch to a colour screen phone I picked up cheap because she liked having something she knew (some old black and white screen nokia).
  • Mark C.
    He's talking out of his arse - plenty of people just want a phone to call and text on, and the PAYG market is still substantialand focused on non-smartphones. Plus many people own both a contract smartphone for regular use and a PAYG regular phone for taking on holiday, to festivals and so forth.
  • Naomi
    Have to agree with Phil on this one. We have an increasingly aging population, there is always going to be a need for something simpler. Last time my mum bought a new phone I had to go with her to help find the most 'dumb' phone in the shop- she doesn't understand most of the jargon.
  • Brandon H.
    As well as the older people thing, consider this: I have had smartphones for 2 years now (android) and while i would not go back due to the sheer amount of customisation (thanks tasker) and internet flexibilty etc, i still have a fondness for the dumbphone. WHY... With dumb phones i could get away with not charging it for at least 4 days in a row (at most 2 with a smartphone), possibly more. And i don't know if this is just android, but smartphones still seem to have s***e cameras that blur moving targets even in pure sunlight. We could also open a debate on how robust the two phone standards are (physically, and regarding bugs and crashes), but i'll leave it there.
  • Mutineer
    Nokia 3410 FTW

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment