US start-up Obi Worldphone launched a new smartphone range aimed at developing markets on August 26.
The company seeks to differentiate itself by avoiding compromises in performance and design, while aiming squarely at the lower end of the market, with devices costing $200 and under. Chief executive John Sculley, the former head of Apple, enlisted the help of fellow Apple alumnus Robert Brunner and his design firm Ammunition, which designed the hugely popular Beats by Dre headphones.
Two handsets are currently available. The premium SF1 costs $200 and the more budget SJ1.5 costs $129. Both have striking designs, making them look and feel like premium products. Ammunition describes its target market as young, aspirational consumers.
Mobile phones are also computers for many consumers in the developing world. These consumers use mobile devices to manage their money, browse the web and listen to music or the radio with friends. To meet these demands, the SF1 is packed with a powerful processor and plenty of memory, as well as Dolby Audio speakers and a high-quality camera.
The developing world will produce most of the future growth in the smartphone market, adding 2.9 billion smartphone connections by 2020, according to a 2015 report by GSMA, a global association of mobile operators.