Feature Phones Live On

Carl Weinschenk

Virtually all the headlines in the cellular phone world are being generated by smartphones. It is important to remember, however, that these sleek new devices still are in the minority.


That point was made in recent research released by Millennial Media. It said that smartphones were responsible for about half-49 percent, to be precise-of advertising impressions last month, according to a report at GigaOm. The other 51 percent of impressions were generated by feature phones and "connected devices" such as PSPs, Nintendo DSes, iPod Touches and iPads.


The feature phone category isn't dead. For instance, this week Verizon said that it is adding support for Skype by adding support for three feature phones to the smartphone it already supports.

Initially, only Android and the BlackBerry were supported. According to the Rethink Wireless story on the move:

This highlights the increasing focus that Verizon and AT&T are placing on feature phones, despite their high profile tussle for higher margin smartphone subscribers. Users of web-enabled devices with fairly basic data plans remain the bulk of their user base - they outnumber smartphones by three to one in the US, and will continue to do so until well into 2011.

The initial feature phones will be from LG (the enV Touch and Chocolate Touch) and Samsung (the Reality).


Indeed, new feature phones are emerging. Today, ZTE unveiled the Salute, which will run on the Verizon network. The Electronista story, which calls it an entry-level slider device, has a 2.4-inch screen and a 1.3-megapixel camera. Also today, Mobile Burn reports that Nokia has introduced the X3 Touch and Type which, at 0.37-inches thick, is one of the vendor's slimmest phones ever.


The line between smartphones and feature phones is fuzzy, and is subject to change. The bottom line is, however, that the capability of each is increasing, which will also increase revenue and use of bandwidth.

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