A video cell phone for $30 or even less? Texas Instruments says it can and will be true with a chip it plans to introduce for emerging markets.
The chip, called "eCosto," combines the multimedia functions found in phones sold in Europe, Asia and North America into the same piece of silicon that handles the essential communications and processing functions for the phone. TI already produces a chip called "LoCosto" for emerging markets. It lets phone makers produce so-called single-chip cell phones, but the LoCosto phones don't include cameras or other extras.
The eCosto phones will likely sport 3-megapixel cameras and video capable of 30 frames per second, and will support the GSM, GPRS and EDGE standards. TI plans to send samples of the eCosto chip to phone makers next year and expects them put it in handsets in 2008.
LoCosto phones (not to be confused with the LoCosto three-entree platters at El Torito) cost around $30 and will continue to decline in price. TI has said that sub-$20 phones will come out in the relatively near future. Phones with the eCosto chip will likely follow a similar pricing pattern. In most cases, the price of the phone will be blended into the service contract, so the up-front payment will be lower.