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Interview with Bob Plaschke (Sonim)
Recently Sonim has come up with an all-round protected phone the Sonim XP1, which can endure almost any unfriendly environment. We sat down with Bob Plaschke, the representative of the company to shed some more light on the maker’s first product and its future.
Mobile-Review (MR) – Why does the phone cost so much? This sum of money (approx 400-500 USD) is enough to purchase many other phones including the Nokia 5500 or the Nokia 5140i.
Bob Plaschke (Sonim) – The phones are more expensive than average because of the R&D we put in to make the phone very tough, very reliable, and functional for an outdoor worker. For example the phone is rated to be dropped from 1.5m without damage, can be used in temperatures below -30 degrees and still function. Another factor is the size of the phone. We’ve made it bigger than the average phone with buttons that are further apart then the average phone so workers in gloves can easily use it. We’ve made the battery last longer, put in two speakers rather than one, and added protection (glare and impact) for the LCD Screen.
Supporting that toughness, the XP1 comes with 3 year warranty that allows for the consumer to return it to the shop and get a new phone immediately, no questions asked, no down time for his/her phone. The XP1 comes with a limited lifetime guarantee for the phone housing such that if the phone casing every breaks Sonim will replace the phone, again, no questions asked.
MR – Why does the device run on a not very capable Philips platform? In its abilities the Sonim XP1 is in line with budget models launched three years ago. This factor is likely to put many consumers off, saving for enterprise users.
Sonim – The Phillips platform was selected because it provides long battery life and has proven to be one of the most reliable software platforms on the market to date. Our customers don’t care as much that the phone has an internet browser or a 4 megapixel camera or a mp3 music player, rather they care that they can be tough on it, it won’t break and if does, we’ll replace it, no questions asked.
MR – Was the functionality limited because of the platform or the point was that the company aimed to emphasize the firmness of the casing?
Sonim – The latter, the platform was selected because of performance both battery life and reliability. We then designed a casing that would be
- bigger than an average phone
MR – Why doesn’t the phone utilize the frame that absorbs hits? (I am not sure that the device lacks the frame, but our test proved the fragility of the phone. We dropped the phone on the floor in the office, which left a big crack on it. The phone didn’t work, but on the fact of it looked fine)
Sonim – The XP1 is the only IP52 phone on the market and as such is rated to be dropped without effect from 1.6 meters. As such it’s pretty shock resistant based on the rubber which absorbs the impact. Additionally we use a process called underfill (this process used to be done in the past by cell phone manufacturers to make phones more rugged but was cancelled years ago for being too expensive). We have noticed however that the screw holders are prone to crack and thus the phone splitting like you’ve indicated. We’ve just added reinforcements to those screw holders to ensure that the phone is even more resistant to being thrown (vs dropped)
MR – Does your company aim at retail networks? If so, how you are going to promote the phone? Better to say, which specifications, advantages are you going to highlight in the campaign?
Sonim – We are selling our phones through retailers and as such are signing up retailers through our distributor in Russia, Brightpoint. We know that our phones are the toughest, rugged phones GSM phones in the market and we’re going to convey this to the consumers in Russia. We’re going to encourage them to try the phone out and underscore that we offer an instore replacement so that the user will never have to spend days w/o a phone, which is what happens when you turn in a broken phone from any other manufacturer.
MR – Are you going to produce the software to synchronize the data between PCs and the phone? Now, as far as I see, the phone is unable to synchronize even the phone book and notes.
Sonim – Currently the XP1 does not synchronize with a PC for address book and other information. In our conversations with our users, for people who spend the majority of their days outside, this was not a critical feature. We are currently looking into the possibility of adding this feature in next model.
MR – How do you estimate the prospect of you phone in different markets?
Sonim – We are currently selling the phone in 10 countries and expect to add 10 more to the list in the next month.
MR – How much are you interested in the Russian market, are you going to highlight it in any way in your policy?
We believe that the Russian market is one of, if not the largest market, for our phone. There are millions of Russian workers that spend most of their days outside and as such need the XP1. In fact, the first language and keypad produced for the phone besides English was Russian. We have recently received our certification from the Russian government that we can sell the phone, we expect to be in a number of retailers very soon and are now negotiating with two major wireless carriers to have them resell our phones.
MR – Thank you for the interview
Sonim – Thank you
Published 23 August 2007
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