English photographer Alastair Daly was in the market recently for an affordable digital music player capable of storing enough songs to pass the time on his hour-long commute through the capital city's clogged streets.
So, instead he bought an SPVC500 smartphone, a new phone from European mobile telecoms service provider Orange Plc (FTE.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) , that can store nine albums' worth of music on a memory card.
While the smartphone's memory capacity is a fraction of the 20-gigabyte Apple iPod, the sound quality is comparable, Daly said. And, at 75 pounds ($135) it's cheaper than iPod, whose midline price in Britain is about 210 pounds. Plus, it functions as a personal digital assistant (PDA) as well.
"It means I don't have to carry a phone, an iPod and a PDA with me everywhere I go," said Daly, 32. "I may still get an MP3 player for all my music, but I just don't have the money right now."
Actually, Daly paid nothing for the phone. Orange was giving away the phones as part of a promotion -- a staple gimmick in the telecoms industry to kickstart usage. Daly's only expense was a 512-megabyte memory card for $143 that slides into the bottom of the phone.
TURN UP THE MOBILE
The days of a mobile phone that functions merely as a communications device capable of playing only off-key ringtone renditions are coming to an abrupt end.
A raft of new phones with souped-up storage, bright color screens and stereo-quality sound systems are hitting the market, mainly to compete with an array of PDAs that themselves double as a phone.
Together, these new gadgets have morphed into an entertainment device to challenge Apple's dominance in the MP3 player market, some analysts say.
The introduction of Samsung's new SPH-V5400 handset last month is considered one of the most interesting developments in the MP3 market as it is the first mobile phone with a built-in hard drive.
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