Although smartphones get all the attention, many consumers still continue to purchase less-expensive feature phones. In 2010, feature phones comprised over 75% of the handset market. Consumers purchase feature phones for a variety of reasons including the need for a device that is optimized for a specific application, such as messaging.
"A messaging phone is a feature phone that has been enhanced for messaging services including SMS, MMS, mobile email, and mobile IM. These devices have a QWERTY keyboard and other capabilities at a price that is usually more affordable than a smartphone," says ABI Research senior analyst Victoria Fodale. "Mobile phones for messaging will encompass an increasing percentage of feature phone shipments, growing to almost a third of the category by 2015."
Practice director Kevin Burden adds, "Mobile phones optimized for messaging are targeted to specific markets including consumers in developing regions who need affordable solutions for messaging and mobile Internet services."
"In the developing regions of Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, access to mobile broadband often outstrips fixed-line broadband access," says Fodale. "For many users in those regions, their only Internet experience may be via a mobile phone."
Extending the mobile Internet to feature phone users where connectivity is costly and slow is a growing trend. Recently Facebook launched a mobile app to extend its reach to feature phones. The Facebook for Feature Phones app works on more than 2,500 mobile devices from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and other OEMs. The app was built in cooperation with Snaptu, a London-based company that provides a free mobile application platform.
Source: Cellular News