Smart has just revealed its very first Netphone Edition smartphone — retaining the original name of the Samsung Galaxy Y complete with the Netphone suite of apps. It’s a curious move considering they actually had the un-released and cheaper Netphone 501 hanging since Mobile World Congress back in February.
From the looks of it, the Netphone 501 (another ZTE handset) is supposed to be the cheaper variant of the Netphone line-up and should have been launched together with the Netphone 701 many weeks back.
Why Smart did not release that cheaper Android phone is unknown but by the fact that they went and looked somewhere else to replace the handset in that price category gives us a hint that the Netphone 501 might not have performed as expected.
As such we’re seeing the Samsung Galaxy Y sporting the Netphone Edition.
The trio seems to have completed the line-up — a 6k, 10k and 20k Netphone variants. The collection is pretty interesting as well — ZTE, Samsung and HTC. My guess is that if it’s a well-known brand, Smart will retain their original names and just add the “Netphone Edition” tag. If it’s an ODM, like ZTE or Huawei, Smart will likely use the Netphone naming system (e.g. 301, 501, 701, 901, etc.)
There’s no telling how many of these ODM handsets Smart will make in the next 12 months but my guess is not that much. They’ll just fill all the gaps in the price category and that’s it. The rest will just be a software roll-out via the Android Market.
This brings me to my point — why I think there’s no need to buy another Netphone. With Smart fast-tracking the development of the Netphone Suite, we should be seeing the app collection be available for anyone to download from the Market.
All you need to do is own a supported handset and subscribe to SmartNet. My guess is that it will spread first among the more affordable Android handsets since that was Smart’s goal in the first place — bring mobile connectivity to the masses (those who spent Php20 a day for unlimited SMS).
When that happens, there will no longer be any handset with a suffix of Netphone Edition the same way it’s unnecessary to call another Android phone the “Angry Birds Edition” or “FourSquare Edition” just because the app suite is pre-installed in the handset. A Twitter follower asked me last night what’s the difference between a Netphone and an Android Smartphone. Looks like it’s just confusing the consumers.
Bottom line, we might soon see the Netphone suite become available to all Android phones and maybe even Honeycomb tablets. That’s when the real fun begins.
Photo credit: CNet.