Not only is the Saygus Vphone V1 the first device to be offered under Verizon Wireless’ Open Development initiative, it’s the first smart phone to be released on a U.S. carrier to offer two-way video conferencing. It will let callers see each other while they talk, as well as allow them to show others what they see around them in real time. Saygus’ proprietary video technology allows two Vphones to stream a video chat conversation over 3G networks at acceptable quality, but the performance isn’t as good when used with other devices, a company spokesperson said.
Packed with Google’s Android operating system, a fast 624-MHz Marvell PXA 310 processor, a 5-megapixel camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, a full QWERTY keyboard, and enough battery life for four hours of video chats, this phone could change the way we communicate. But can this device, which has an early 2010 release date, compete with such cheaper, subsidized devices as the Motorola Droid?
Why the Competition Should Care
While AT&T’s one-way Video Share service never gained any traction with consumers, Saygus’ two-way approach could change the way we talk. “Saygus’ objective is to create the world’s ultimate convergence device using its own proprietary video communications technology by establishing a low-cost, low-bandwidth, high-resolution, and low-power-consumption two-way video calling smart phone,” Saygus CEO Chad Sayers explained.
“[Saygus] really addresses something that’s a more logical extension to the phone call," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for consumer technology at NPD. "While it may be one thing to send video to friends and family, it’s something else to connect with them and see each other’s faces.” Though most of Verizon Wireless’ phones are also available with no-contract pricing, the Saygus Vphone V1 will likely be more attractive to early adopters looking for a one-of-a-kind device.
There are a few drawbacks that could keep mass market adoption of the Vphone out of reach. For one, the phone measures a bulky 4.6 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches. The company says the device's large size is necessary to accommodate the 1500-mAh battery. Also, Saygus isn’t exactly a household name, even though the company has been around for over 12 years.
“In general, Verizon Wireless has implied that open development phones will be low volume devices that have appeal to tech and other enthusiasts," Rubin said. "If Verizon isn’t going to market or subsidize the phone, it’s on the same playing field as any unlocked GSM phone, but it will be less desirable because it can’t tap into the international buyer.”
Despite analyst predictions that it won’t be subsidized, Saygus’ CEO hopes that resellers will subsidize the Vphone where it’s distributed and that it will be priced competitively with existing smart phones. Saygus also has plans to license its technology to other manufacturers so its two-way video calling service will be available across multiple types of handsets.
Location: Salt Late City, Utah
No. of Employees: Less than 50