Colour has been touted as the killer app in so many industries – television, games, computer screens, printing – you name it, it looks better in colour. Now the revolution seems to have reached mobile phones, where a colour screen will soon be de rigueur, and a host of new applications will be launched to take advantage of it.
Virgin Mobile hopes to be ahead of the crowd with its plan to launch five new colour handsets across its range before Christmas. But it's not the just the hardware line up it's enhancing, it's also working on making MMS (multimedia messaging) a reality, plus offering other extras to make colour a must have.
The handsets cover the whole of Virgin's range. At the low end there is Sagem's MY-X5, which will be available next month, and will be "aggressively priced" according to Virgin Mobile, although its actual cost has not been revealed. At the other end of the spectrum is the Sony Ericsson P800 (pictured). This handset will be available in the autumn and will include built-in Java and Bluetooth. Again no pricing for the latter phone has been released, but Virgin Mobile did admit that "it's not going to be cheap".
Nick White, head of accessories group, VirginXtras, believes that the introduction of colour will give users greater scope to personalise their phones. "People have personalised their PCs for years, now that's going to transfer onto their mobile phones".
The company plans to allow users to download personal photos to display on their phone, and is looking into providing movie, news and audio clips direct to your mobile. It is also planning to implement MMS soon, although no date was given other than to say sometime towards the end of the year. This is despite the fact that 50 percent shareholder T-Mobile, has already introduced this service on a limited basis to its customers.
White explained that the Virgin Mobile is still trialling MMS on two platforms on both a Nokia and Sony Ericsson handset, and that currently "pricing is the biggest issue". It believes that the £20 cost, on top of a monthly price plan, which T-Mobile is charging will prove too expensive. Instead Virgin wants MMS to go mass market, and as such needs to introduce the service at a price point that will encourage adoption.