Nokia Corp., the world's largest maker of mobile phones, has quietly acquired a stake in Smarterphone, a developer of "smart" mobile operating systems for low-cost cell phones, from Ferd venture capitalist. The deal is kept secret, but if Nokia proceeds with integration of Smarterphone OS into its low-cost phones, it can radically change the market of mobile phones in general.
"Egil Kvaleberg is a world class software architect and founder. His internationally recruited and unique team situated in Oslo has created an operating system for lower end mobile phone that provides highly advanced functionality on very moderate hardware. Our belief in the team, technology and the long term market for feature phones remains firm, and we believe the company has now found a fantastic new home with Nokia," said Annar Bohn, investment manager at Ferd Capital.
Smarterphone 3.0 is an all-encompassing mobile operating system for wireless handsets, allowing OEMs and ODMs to bring new, highly competitive devices to the market quickly and at low cost. Smarterphone 3.0 includes a state of the art application suite, connecting the top-layer applications with the underlying platform, targeting major carrier's strictest requirements. Compared to conventional smartphones, our solution offers unique possibilities for differentiation, much lower handset bill of materials and total cost, and a truly integrated user experience of the connected phone, combining all electronic communication needs in one device.
"Globally, there are 4 billion mobile phone users. Despite all the attention given to high end smartphones, the majority of the 4 billion cannot afford such a device. With Smarterphone OS, inexpensive phones can be smart, too. Their users are just as keen to have easy and natural access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as users of high end phones," said Egil Kvaleberg, chief executive officer of Smarterphone.
Although the most logical option for Nokia to address the market of low-cost phones with touchscreens is Symbian, it looks like the company is eager to try different operating systems for its feature phones for the next decade. Smarterphone allows to create both very simple as well as more advanced phones with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, quality Internet browser and so on. It remains to be seen, however, whether Nokia will integrate Smarterphone "as is" or will combine its own assets with Smarterphone and other software to create a brand-new mobile operating system for phones that can cost from $25 to $75. It is also unknown whether software developed for Symbian will work on the new platform.
Terms of the deal are not known and Ferd has even removed the appropriate press release from its web-site. What is known is that since 2007 till 2011 Ferd Capital invested $5 million and €2 million into Smarterphone.
"We believe that Smarterphone could become the Wal-Mart of mobile handsets. Apple iPhone and Android-based phones have paved the way for smart phones worldwide, however, they require sophisticated hardware and therefore become too expensive for most people in the world. Smarterphone are able to build the advanced features of these high-end phones in low cost 3G handsets, thereby making every phone smart," said Bjørn Erik Reinseth, partner of Ferd Capital.