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Ogo goes to Austria

Mobilkom Austria announced a fresh assault on the youth market this week with the launch of the mobile media friendly Ogo handset.

The device, which is reportedly doing very well in Germany, has a following in Switzerland and is also headed to the UK, is being pitched as a budget alternative to the BlackBerry.

The device comes embedded with instant messaging clients MSN and ICQ, which apparently the ‘youth’ just can’t get enough of, and according to the firm’s website lets users “flirt, chat, rant or cajole from the bus, the bar, or a bench in the park”.

It resembles Danger’s aging Hiptop gadget in appearance and one industry commentator remarked to telecoms.com “it’s like a smartphone, without the smart”.

The terminal’s manufacturer claims the device’s full Qwerty keyboard and ‘sleek’ design will encourage user interaction designed with email, IM and web browsing in mind. Of course, these are the very same claims that have been made about a certain soon to be released Apple device and indeed, recently released devices from HTC, Sony Ericsson and Nokia. In fact, those were the very same claims that were made back in 2001 when Danger went public with the Hiptop.

“Our mission through Ogo is to deliver the ultimate mobile messaging platform. The challenge is that the concept of mobile messaging is changing, this means that in addition to instant messaging, email, web browsing, SMS, we also enable the mobilisation of blogs, social networking, online dating, and so much more,” said Amit Haller, president and CEO of IXI Mobile, the maker of the Ogo suite of devices and services.

It’s not got the same exclusivity and wow-factor of AT&T’s imminent new arrival, but Mobilkom Austria, the leading MNO in Austria with more than 3.6 million customers and a market share of 38.7 per cent, will be hoping to emulate the success that T-Mobile USA had when it launched the Hiptop – rebranded as the Sidekick – back in October 2002.

Times change, devices evolve, but the aspirations remain reassuringly familiar.


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