O2: Breaking the Ice in the UK

Will uiOne phone get warm reception?
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Will uiOne phone get warm reception?

O2 has taken the wraps off its first own-brand mobile based on uiOne, Qualcomm's user interface.

The all-white Ice handset, aimed at the pay-as-you-go market, is the first of a series of customisable devices that O2 is working on using the US wireless giant's technology.

O2 has had most success in its own-brand offerings in the business space, using Windows Mobile-based devices from original equipment manufacturer HTC but is hoping having input into the design of the Ice will change its fortunes.

Gareth Hayes, head of device delivery at O2, said: "[Own brand] consumer handsets haven't fared too well."

Hayes added that O2 is hoping to eventually have 20 to 30 per cent of sales made up from own brand devices.

The device is made by Pantech & Curitel. O2 hasn't however ruled out using other manufacturers for future uiOne mobiles.

The Ice device will be the first uiOne phone to come out in Europe, although operators in Australasia and the US have rolled out other handsets in their respective territories.

uiOne allows users to customise their phones by changing the homescreen to include applications as well as bookmarks, contacts and links. According to Qualcomm, operators can also use uiOne to turn homescreen into a shop window for flogging content or displaying advertising.

O2 has been one of the more successful operators in pushing non-SMS mobile data, increasing non-SMS data users by 50 per cent in its most recent financial quarter.

According to research from Strategy Analytics, by 2010 37 per cent of the $52bn wireless data services market will be made up by content.

Phil Taylor, director, wireless internet applications at the analyst house, said declining data costs, better available and, above all, usability will boost data consumption.

He said: "Despite fast networks, handsets with large colour screens and high transmission speeds, relatively few features bundled with handsets are being used… You can't underestimate the importance of usability."

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