Infineon targets GSM phone with $15 bill-of-materials

Infineon Technologies AG aims to bring down the cost of building a mobile phone to around US$15 by next year, a senior company official told reporters Tuesday in Bangalore, India.

The Munich-based semiconductor manufacturer plans to reduce the bill of materials, or the cost of parts and materials, for mobile phones built around its Ultra Low Cost (ULC) reference platform for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phones, said S. Surya, senior vice president and head of the corporate software group of Infineon.

Infineon also intends to reduce the number of passive and active components in the handset to 50 from the about 100 components in its current ULC platform design.

In July, Infineon announced availability of samples of its first reference design for ULC handsets. Using its ULC reference platform, which is based on a single-chip GSM solution, the cost of a GSM handset with SMS (Short Message Service) functionality could be reduced to below $20. These costs cover the entire mobile phone, including all electronic components, printed circuit board, connectors, casing with keypad and display, all software components, rechargeable batteries, charger, packaging and documentation, the company said.

The platform's power consumption has also been optimized so that low-cost rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries using AAA cells can be used to power the phone, Surya said. The monochrome display phone, which in its basic configuration has 16M bits of flash memory and 2M bits of SRAM (static RAM), can be upgraded to a color display by doubling the flash memory and SRAM in the design, Surya added.

Infineon expects that mobile phones based on its ULC reference platform will be delivered to users by the first quarter of next year, said Surya, who displayed a working version of the phone. Some mobile phone makers are likely to announce their products built around the ULC platform before the end of this year, he said.

"Our expectation is that the end user price for these phones will not be a lot more than $20," Surya said. The new phones will be voice-centric phones, targeted at the very low end of the mobile phone market where the largest volumes are, he added.

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