THE TV PHONE THAT COULD SELL
TELEVISION ON cellphones in the traditional broadcast sense of the word hasn’t shown much promise. DStv has tried to launch a mobile version of its service in South Africa using DVB-H technology but has been stalled by regulator Icasa dragging its feet in terms of making such an offering possible from a legislative perspective. The market also seems apathetic about the concept. Now Altech Autopage Cellular has introduced a device from Chinese vendor VS Mobile that allows users to tune into SABC1, 2 and 3 and e.tv.
The V826 Mobile TV phone has an aerial that extends from under it and is used to tune into UHF and VHF signals. It also has two SIM card slots with respective call buttons. For example, using the dual-SIM functionality you can insert SIM cards for both MTN and Cell C and then choose which SIM to call out on by using the call key that correlates to the desired network’s SIM.
The dual-SIM card approach is a clever one in markets such as SA, where low average revenue per user (ARPU) customers regularly carry multiple SIM cards to maximise on savings and specials offered on prepaid cellular connections.
The V826 is a terrible phone. It has a sub-standard camera, makes annoying sounds, even just when switching on, has terrible reception for TV and has one of the worst user interfaces I’ve ever seen – and it’s going to sell like hotcakes.
The reason it will succeed is simple: it’s cheap and enjoying a partnership with the SABC that includes TV advertising. At R1 600, the V826 offers features you’d usually have to spend more than double that for. They may be bad implementations of those features but they’re there nonetheless.
Besides its TV tuner and 1,3 megapixel camera the V826 also supports playback for MP3, can record TV and radio, has a touch screen with stylus and built-in FM radio. It’s also WAP enabled for simple Internet functionality.
I’d rather use two tin cans and some string to communicate than consider the V826. However, I do see where Altech Autopage Cellular is coming from and its market positioning is genius. There’s just one catch: you must produce a TV licence before you can buy the V826.