The smart money is on a smartphone future

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Compared to last year’s event, it’s clear the sales doldrums high-end smartphones went through 12 to 18 months ago have given way to a serious surge of interest – and shifting units – among mobile users.

The reason? It’s all down to price. With the UK market saturated, the networks are now offering improved volume commissions to their higher-end dealers, while trimming ‘standard’ commissions in the mainstream market.

Coupled with falling prices on high-end smartphones, this has led to the UK’s buying public enjoying some of the best deals on handsets in the world.

According to Nigel Clifford, Symbian’s CEO, he wants the sales channel to continue to boost its sales of high-end smartphones and, to do this, Symbian has developed two new sets of features for the Symbian operating system, which are big-screen and mobile broadband specific.

ScreenPlay and FreeWay

Symbian calls these features ‘ScreenPlay’ and ‘FreeWay’ respectively. ScreenPlay is a new graphics architecture designed to give a richer visual experience while still preserving battery life. Freeway, meanwhile, is a new networking architecture designed to take advantage of the mobile broadband services the networks are currently promoting.

The channel won’t see these new features until the spring of next year, but Clifford claims they will wow the customers, especially since the Symbian operating system now powers around 70 per cent of all smartphones.

Clifford claims Freeway will be a must-have feature on smartphones and encourages existing users to upgrade their handsets.

“If you’re downloading from a Wi-Fi hot spot and walk away, FreeWay detects the signal is weakening and automatically switches to the mobile network, without interrupting your download. When you get home, it detects your Wi-Fi signal and switches to using that,” he explained.

Symbian’s head of strategy John Forsyth told Mobile News he shares Clifford’s enthusiasm for ScreenPlay and Freeway, viewing the new features as an ideal way of encouraging interest in new smartphones among dealer customers.

But what about the 90 per cent of handsets that are not Symbian-driven? Will we ever see a Symbian Lite on them?

“We’ve looked at that option,” said Forsyth, who added that, for the time being, Symbian is concentrating on maintaining its position in the high-end smartphone market.

Understandably so, especially with Nokia unveiling the 8GB sleek black version of the N95 at the show, along with the promise of a touch-screen interface for its Symbian S60 mobiles next year.

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