Smartphones dumbed down

When they aren't locked in to buy-out battles and petty arguments over share-price value, it seems Microsoft, Google and


are all working together to make smartphones a little more user-friendly to the average Joe on the street.

Driven by the success of the idiot-proof iPhone, the three tech giants are looking at ways of clawing more money from the world’s 3.3 billion mobile phone subscribers, according to reports in the International Herald Tribune.

'Mobile bigger than internet'

To give some context to the size of this potential market, the IHT compares it with the 900 million personal computer users and the 1.3 billion internet surfers worldwide.

"Ultimately, mobile is much bigger than the internet," Gary Roshak, vice president of mobile advertisers and publishers at Yahoo told the IHT. "It's another mass medium, like every mass medium before it. What we're all trying to do is build an audience."

"We've done very well in business productivity, but we're really only in a couple of slots inside the operator's taxonomy," said Pieter Knook, senior vice president of Microsoft's mobile communications business. "We're not the primary offering in some of the more consumer-oriented slots, and we aim to change that."

Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Danger is clearly part of this strategy to appeal to the lower end of the smartphone market.

"Mobile software is just not as rich as the hardware," said Rich Miner, group manager of mobile platforms at Google. "Something like 80 per cent of phones have cameras in them, and I wouldn't be surprised if less than 1 per cent of users have ever done anything with a photo on their phone."

Android power

A key part of the strategy will be cutting the price on Android-powered mobiles. "I've already seen technology demonstrations of Android running on new 3G chips that will let handset makers build phones at less than $100," says Google’s Rich Miner.

For more on Android and the lesser-publicised LiMo platform, see Techradar’s earlier news from today.

Source: International Herald Tribune.

Adam Hartley