Tesco is soon to join the ranks of Samsung, Apple, Google, and other major mobile companies. The UK supermarket chain says it will release a smart phone by the end of the year.
A smart phone from a supermarket? Certainly seems strange, but not for Tesco which released a tablet last September that has proved very popular with its broad customer base. Will a smart phone capture the same interest, especially in a crowded mobile world? Technology experts seem to think the supermarket is onto something.
Tesco CEO Philip Clark announced the new phone on Tuesday on BBC radio. Though the details are sparse (no specs, specific timeline, or prices have been announced), Mr. Clark says the device will run on Android software and will operate similar to high-end smart phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5.
The phone will also come pre-loaded with Tesco apps, which could include features previously seen on Tesco’s tablet, the Hudl, such as Club Card TV, online banking, and shopping applications.
In the meantime, Clark did say that the Hudl would get an update in September. The Tesco tablet has already sold more than half a million devices since it was released in September. Some believe this predicts success for the future Tesco tablet as well.
“With the original Hudl tablet, Tesco [made] a robust, fun and cheap tablet that did everything most people needed,” writes Matt Warman, head technology writer at The Telegraph. “It has appealed to a market that simply didn’t think an iPad was for them. The brand appeal of Tesco cuts through the idea that only a certain kind of geek is interested in the latest gadgets.”
“Whatever the marketing hype, it is unlikely that it will offer the features of an iPhone or an HTC One,” he adds. “But it will be in what remains the nation’s most popular supermarket and it will be cheap enough to appeal.”
However, everyone isn’t so sure, especially when looking at the broader smart phone market.
“Mobile producers like Samsung, HTC, Apple and Sony have spent years developing high-tech devices, that include a long list of features to accommodate even the most demanding tech users out there,” says Markos Zachariadis of Warwick Business School to Forbes. ”Breaking into that category directly and gaining the slightest market share is going to be very difficult for new starters like Tesco.”
But Tesco isn’t the only company pulling up a chair at the smart phone table. A phone from online retailer Amazon has been rumored for months, and last week photos were leaked that seem to confirm this suspicion.