TLDR: SMART has just revamped itself. It is now a social network composed of all its subscribers, services and establishments.
Before reading this, you may want to check out two links:
And then read even just the first paragraph in italics:
On Twitter, friends have chimed in asking what operating system it runs on. Others have also said that since this is a smartphone (the photo shows the Netphone Android 2.2. device), it might be expensive.
I myself thought the same things before leaving for Barcelona. Initially, I thought that the Netphone was a “skinned” device with SMART branding similar to how HTC embeds the Sense UI on top of Android.
I was heavily mistaken.
The Netphone is not a single phone. It is a complete line of phones. And in the hopeful future, all phones issued by SMART will be a ‘Netphone.’
On the web, I read comments mentioning that the prototype Netphone tablets and mobiles were ZTE units. This is true! ZTE is a Netphone partner. But as you read above, even HTC is jumping into the bandwagon.
The goal of the Netphone Project is to create a telco-centric ecosystem powered by SMART in the Philippines. Whoa, nelly, what does that mean?!
Let’s define a few things: currently, “ecosystems” are platform dependent: you have Apple’s iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android and its many versions, Microsoft Windows Phone 7, RIM’s odd Playbook and BlackBerry apps (they aren’t cross-platform compatible), Nokia’s Symbian S60 and S40 (they’ve scrapped this in favor of Windows Phone 7) and the latest player, HP’s webOS which seems to be making a killing on paper.
The problem today is that there are just too many environments. As a developer, it’s extremely difficult to choose what to develop for. Angry Birds for iPhone and Angry Birds for Android isn’t the same app. You can’t put a Honda engine inside your Toyota.
SMART’s Netphone Project aims to unify all their devices, whether entry level, mid range and high end smartphones to have the following services:
Global Address Book
There will be two address books inside the Netphone: a local address book with your contacts (synced the way you usually do depending on your OS) and a global yellow pages of SMART subscribers who have signed up with the Netphone (it’s stalker time!). Of course there will be privacy settings!
The Global Address Book will include a listing of establishments (i.e. the Jollibee app) that will allow store owners to add features to their establishments, such as a one button click to open the Jollibee Delivery app built into the phone.
For bloggers for instance, beside their name, they can have their blog’s RSS feed. So it isn’t just your name and number — it’s all the things you do contextualized to the web. In a way it sorta is like how Windows Phone 7’s ‘People’ app works but you don’t need to be a part of Facebook to use it.
Like BlackBerry Messenger, all Netphones regardless of OS will have unified chat allowing you to message your contacts. Receiving messages will be free. Sending messages will have costs. SPECULATION: It should be cheaper than SMS.
Bite sized email for those who can’t afford — reading the header is free. Opening it will have additional charges.
This will be the Netphone’s payment gateway to eCommerce. For instance, aside from COD, ordering from Jollibee allows you to pay using SMART Money.
In the future when you buy a phone with SMART regardless of the brand, it may even be a Netphone.
I attended a panel with Bong Mojica sitting in and he said that in the Philippines, an “app” is just another form of a service. So whether you deploy via SMS, or widget or web, it’s the same service with varying degrees of experience. With the Netphone deployed, feature phones (i.e. entry level phones) and smartphones will have access to the same services, probably with different user interfaces.
WAC: Why this is all possible (Wholesale Applications Community)
This is a good time to be a developer. Imagine an app just once over and having it deployed across the entire SMART network. Do the Math – sell an app for PHP 50.00, keep 30% of downloads from 5% of 60 million subs. Kahit 0.5% OK na! Wow.
SMART is a founding member of WAC, an organization of telcos and suppliers that allow for mass deployment of applications into different platforms without having to rewrite anything. So even the Jollibee app will work 100% on a Vodaphone network on some other phone platform so your OFW dad can order Jollibee for his kids anytime he wants.
That being said, it makes sense to see why Android is the leading platform being used for this. Hopefully, future devices such as RIM, webOS and Windows Phone 7 will open up to the global WAC initiative. Good luck if Apple even bites into this — we highly doubt. Perspective: It isn’t just SMART that’s doing this — sure, they’re one of the founders but so many other organizations and telcos around the world already have a stake. Exciting.
P.S. And no I’m not kissing SMART’s ass. 🙂 In all honesty, they have something good going with this. if there’s a way for the masses to appreciate 3G, this is going to be it.