Mobile email vendor pushes into low cost handsets for developing markets

Synchronica has teamed up with Korean based mobile handset supplier, KC Mobile (KCM) to offer a range of cost competitive email enabled handsets to emerging market operators. Prices will start at around $99.

Mobile email software specialist, Synchronica, is following its instincts. It’s seen that the real growth in cellular markets comes from the developing markets. As early as 2007, emerging markets overtook developed markets in terms of handsets shipping, for example.

Its second premise is equally strong. In continents such as Latin America and Africa, a mobile phone is the only internet enabled device the vast majority of the population possesses

So what these people want is a phone that does everything (well) and is affordable. At $99, Synchronica has calculated that such a handset represents between one third and a fifth of the typical worker’s monthly income. So the maths do add up.

The next ploy is to offer both white label software along with these white labelled handsets – which Synchronica is calling MessagePhones – to local operators in these high growth countries.

Playing with the handset, Techeye was impressed with its speed. Jackie Lee, a director with KC Mobile, revealed the two models use chips from Mediatek.

Plus KC Mobile claims to be one of Mediatek’s longest standing customers with its R&D in Korea and manufacturing in China.

The phones certainly look pukka and purchasers won’t be embarrassed by their looks which are extremely Crackberry-alike. Synchronica hinted that more models are very likely to follow.


Carsten Brinkschulte, Synchronica’s CEO, revealed that his strategy has already borne fruit because one Latin American and one African operator have just signed up to the deal.

The handsets support what the company is calling ‘next generation mobile messaging’ which goes beyond email and text to offering IM [Instant Messaging] and social networking plus RSS newsfeeds.

There are two actual models at present – the QS150 and the higher spec QS200 which boasts extra memory and support for Bluetooth. They both have decent colour screens and Qwerty kepads.

Perhaps the most controversial feature is the built-in browser licensed from Bolt. This sends all the handset’s Net traffic through servers to optimise the content for mobile usage.

It gets around the problem of trying to support Flash on a mobile phone. The handset is also fully Java MIDP 2.0 compatible which enables users to download a whole range of (free) games and utilities. It’s probably possible to download an alternative browser like Opera, too.

Synchronica claims that email setup is a simple 1-2-3 proceedure, although Techeye struggled to set up some of its legacy email accounts. For newbies, starting with a new email address supplied by the local operator should be no problem.

In effect, Synchronica has side-stepped the old push email battles with the likes of RIM, Nokia, Microsoft, Sybase, Seven, Blackberry, Globo, Critical path and Good to concentrate on developing markets.

A QS200 isn’t going to make the headlines, but who cares if they sell like hotcakes in markets such as Latin America and the Asia Pacific region?