John Sculley’s tenure as Apple CEO saw the launch of the PowerBook laptop and System 7 operating system in 1991, as well as the temporary ouster of Steve Jobs. Sculley was removed from the company himself in 1993 following a series of flops, but he never really left tech.
Sculley is now launching a new line of cheap Android smartphones called Obi Worldphone in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The Obi Worldphone SF1 is a 4G / LTE phone with a 5-inch display that will sell for just $US199 (£128) unlocked, and the 3G SJ1.5 will sell for $US129 (£83). The devices are kept cheap with Qualcomm, Sony and Dolby parts, and Obi is focusing on design to try to differentiate itself from its competitors.
The phones came about through a partnership with San Francisco design studio Ammunition, which created the original designs for Beats headphones. Ammunition partner Robert Brunner, who had collaborated with Sculley in the past on devices like Apple’s PowerBook and Newton PDA, led the effort.
Obi isn’t the only company gunning for the low-end Android market right now though. Chinese smartphone makers like Huawei and Xiaomi have stolen Android market share from companies like HTC with their own dirt-cheap devices, and both OnePlus devices have proved increasingly popular. Arguably there are simply too many Android brands on the market right now, and some, like LG, are making only 1.2 cents in profit per handset sold.
The SF1 runs a Snapdragon 615 processor, and comes with 2GB or RAM or 16GM of storage as standard, and costs $US249 (£160) for 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It has a back-facing 13-megapixel camera powered by Sony’s IMX214 Exmore sensor, and a front-facing 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. The cheaper SJ.1 comes with 16GB of storage and a 3,000 milliamps battery. Both phones have dual SIM slots too, and run a very slightly modified version of Android Lollipop that the company calls Lifespeed.