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    Feature phones delay adoption of open OS


    The Western European mobile phone market, grew by 7% year on year in the second quarter of 2006 as shipments reached 41.4 million units compared to 38.5 in the corresponding quarter of 2005.

    Jean-Philippe Bouchard, senior research analyst, European Mobile Devices, said that further movement of WCDMA handsets into accessible price points as well as prepay bundles, combined with the introduction of well-equipped feature phones drove healthy renewal cycles.
    IDC emphasised that while converged devices have consistently outperformed traditional mobile phones in recent quarters in terms of growth, 2Q06 saw converged device growth only marginally exceed that of traditional mobile phones, due to portfolio transitioning and device delays.
    IDC believes this further points to the strength of the feature phone in Western Europe.
    “The advantages of an open, evolved OS for manufacturers,operators, and developers with regard to cost, time to market, and rich customisation advantages are undeniable. However, from the perspective of most consumers the advanced capability is still either deemed unnecessary or lies invisible behind considerations such as form factor and multimedia capability,” said Andrew Brown, programme manager, European Mobile Devices and Computing.
    The result is that consumer-centric converged devices are competing directly with high-end feature phones, which in terms of the most visible technical specifications such as cameras, are generally deemed indistinct from smart phones by most consumers.
    “Nokia is undoubtedly making substantial progress with S60 in the consumer space. However, the lack of commercial success other licensees have had with the platform is indicative of the dilemma faced by many vendors,” said Geoff Blaber, senior research analyst, European Mobile Devices. “With demand for feature phones still strong the prospect of high initial costs before the advantages of platfomisation can be realised is an inhibitor to widespread migration to an evolved OS for consumer devices. Technology demands will command the move in the longer term but the migration is proving slower than vendors, operators, and commentators anticipated.”