Modern VoIP WiFi phones are too expensive

And all this news today about VoIP WiFi phones made me think even more about how overpriced these Linksys phones really are. These phones have way less functionality/hardware than cellular phones and require less coding and testing. I mean, go compare the Motorola V360 which has a gazillion of features compared to these WiFi phones (compared to the Linksys phones it has GSM antennas, microSD slot, VGA camera, external color screen, Bluetooth, Java and other licensed software). And yet, the V360 sells for just $160 in the retail, when the Linksys ones sell between $220 and $360.

What if there was a company that would create VoIP WiFi Linux phones that were reasonably priced? I believe that it’s technically possible (including R&D, additional software development, testing and promotion) to sell the following basic VoIP phone for just $129:

16 MB ROM (~2 MB free for the user)
200 Mhz 32bit ARM
1.8″ 176×220 TFT
Wifi 802.11b
1100 mAh (this gives you ~3 hours talk time, ~50 hours standby)
usb mass storage, mini-usb charging
SIP v2, Skype and an RSS app on top of Qtopia Phone Edition 4.0 (no web browser)

The above suggested softphone has pretty much the same specs as the Palm Z22 (which sells for $99 in suggested retail and just $89 at some other places) plus the WiFi chipset (which in reality costs just $10 in the OEM market). Overall, there’s probably a $30 profit on each one of these things sold.

And here’s a higher-end VoIP phone with the following additional features, for $199 (with about $40 profit for each one sold):
Bluetooth v1.2
1250 mAh battery
microSD slot
1.3MP or VGA camera
QVGA 2.2″ screen
32 MB ROM (~10 MB free for the user)
Bluetooth support on top of Qtopia & a file manager that can handle it
A Java stack for games & Opera Mini as the default web browser

Now, you could ask “who’s gonna buy these”? Well, not most of you who read this blog, that’s for sure. But many companies that have an interest in VoIP will (and that’s a growing market), while if marketed correctly it can sell to teenagers/kids whose parents don’t want them to have real cellphones yet (think of it as how the walkie-talkies had a booming in the ’80s among youngsters). It’s a niche market, that’s true. But these prices are doable and even leave margin for profit, and I believe that such products can find a place next to real cellphones (until all real cellphones offer VoIP anyway, in a few years).

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cellular wrote on May 25th, 2006 at 10:35 AM PST:

I found this information helpful, thanks very much.

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