Friday, October 28, 2011
Android has become something in the telephone history that you cannot ignore. So it seems logical to build a DECT phone based on Android—snom Dectdroid? Does it?
The idea goes like this: Take a standard Android phone, forget about the GSM interface and replace it with a DECT interface. Hopefully this will be done using CatIQ, so that the handset can access the internet over the DECT air interface. Then you can run all kinds of apps on the Dectdroid, and this would be your corporate phone for walking around in the office. Applications could be like this:
· Hospitals have a lot of semi-mobile staff that walks around in the building all the time. They can use the handset for talking, but it would also be very easy to add apps that deal with the routine in the hospital. Thanks to a large developer community, finding someone to write some hospital specific stuff should be easy.
· Same story for hotels. Really pretty much the same, of course with different applications. For example, the maid application who can just click on “cleaned up the room” when she is done with a room.
· Regular offices would also like it, because you can give every employee and Dectdroid instead of another handset and a small app could help transferring calls, picking up calls and so on.
· DECT has advantages compared to WLAN and Bluetooth which are important in the voice business: You can have a lot more handsets in the room than with Bluetooth and because the DECT frequency is reserved only for DECT devices, there are much less problems with interference with other devices. Also, DECT is low power. As we all know.
While that all sounds nice, there are a couple of problems here:
· Price. You would suddenly increase the cost for the device by magnitudes. Remember that Android devices are usually made in the millions, and DECT handsets in this category will probably be far away from that. This does result in a different price tag. I would guess MSRP in the area of 400 USD.
· Battery lifetime. As soon as you have DRAM, the battery time will go down. The problem is solved with the smart phone handset; however keep in mind that those devices have a powerful battery, which is expensive and heavy.
· The patent situation is also very unsatisfactory from a manufacturer’s point of view. Imagine we make this beautiful Dectdroid, and then get a letter from on the big players asking us to stop immediately or pay huge amount of cash for the patent infringements. If you are one of the big ones, the legal department will probably almost be happy they got so much work to do and so much attention. However small fish like snom cannot afford a team with ten people checking the patent situation about Android.
All in all, it is probably easier to just add a USB device or something similar to an existing Android device and use this as the device for talking over DECT. Looking at some recent Android phones in the hundred dollar range, this is probably even cheaper.
So for me the bottom line is, at first glance it sound like a good idea. But the volume will be too low to justify the effort and most customers can also live with the single-chip DECT handsets that are available today.