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Cellphones to acquire smart skins

By Thomas K Thomas in New Delhi
March 24, 2004 08:52 IST
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Would you like to have a mobile phone with Ferraris racing all over it and the Ferrari theme song as a ring tone? And backed with all the conceivable information about the company's racing record?

If motor racing doesn't put you in high gear how about a Beyonce Knowles or a Bryan Adams phone?

It's the ultimate mobile phone accessory with a brain of its own that can transform your handset beyond recognition. SmartSkin is a clip-on case for your phone with a choice of themes that can alter everything about it from the keypad lights to the screen background. SmartSkin even offers video clips of the chosen theme whether its Ferraris or Beyonce.

Wildseed, the US company that makes SmartSkin -- which it describes as an interactive accessory -- is looking at an Indian launch in the near future. "We hope to launch the product in India this year, which will make it the first country to adopt the technology after the US and UK," says Simon Davies, managing director, Wildseed International.

The company is talking to Indian mobile service operators and is looking at popular themes to be developed for the Indian market. A Sachin Tendulkar phone with the Little Maestro's match-winning shots and information about all the records he has set, is one strong possibility. Also, likely are SmartSkins with Bollywood themes. "We have received a good response from all the Indian operators we have spoken to," says Davies.

How does it work? "The SmartSkin comes with a chip which when attached to the mobile handset completely changes the experience for the user. It also allows subscribers access to data servers which store content based on the theme selected by the subscriber," says John McQueen, vice president sales, Wildseed.

SmartSkin can be clipped on in seconds and needs no other installation procedures. The company is yet to work out the pricing for the Indian market.

Smartskin will also allow operators to drive data applications like song downloads, chat, video clips. "With revenues from voice coming down, operators would benefit from deploying SmartSkin on the handsets as they could charge a premium for offering personalised content," said Davies.

In the US prices for SmartSkin are around $200. For that price buyers get both the mobile phone and the SmartSkin.

To get all the services it is necessary to have a GPRS-enabled phone. A person who buys a Ferrari SmartSkin, for instance, might get auto based videogames along with it.
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