It might have been a bit overshadowed by all of the exciting Mobile World Congress news to hit this week, but Vodafone has launched a new device that endeavors to bring internet access to the televisions of people in developing nations.
Dubbed Webbox, Vodafone’s Patrick Chomet said the device is basically the data part of a phone inside a keyboard with a good, old analog RCA cable added in for connectivity. Once you plug in those color-coded red, white, and yellow cables and power on, you’ll see a home screen that plays host to Opera Mini 5.1. Aside from surfing the web and email, users will also have access to SMS, an FM radio, a photo gallery tool, a music player, games, a basic text editor, and a locally relevant job search and application service.
All data is sent compressed over 2.5G and EDGE mobile networks. Though pricing will obviously depend on the country, Vodafone is promising affordable internet access here, so anything extortionate would kind of defeat the purpose.
Vodacom in South Africa has announced that they will start selling the Webbox from next week. Other markets across Vodafone’s emerging market footprint are scheduled for launch at some point in 2011.