Telecoms firm Ericsson has announced that they are to expand into the field of cloud services.
The white-label service will soon be offered by operators to customers and enterprises. Sanjay Kaul, vice president of consumer and business applications in Ericsson's multimedia business unit, is in charge of the service. So far, the service is available only in India and Mauritius, but he promises a rapid roll-out.
"When we sign an agreement with a mobile phone operator, the service is available to consumers within three months," Kaul said.
Kaul would not speculate on how big this will become, but he says that there are about 800 mobile phone operators in the world, and all of them are prospects.
The service began when Ericsson's relatively new multimedia business unit had developed a number of consumer services for operators to offer mobile broadband customers.
Development is done mainly in India by the Novatium company, partly owned by Ericsson. Novatium has already signed deals with several Indian operators, which among themselves already have more than 40,000 users of the services.
The service is to be hardware-independent. What Ericsson delivers to the operator is the client, the platform, servers and maintenance. "It's up to the operator to package the service. We deliver a cloud-based service, " Kaul said.
The customer pays a fixed price for the client and a monthly fee, based on use. The monthly cost for this service will definitely be lower than what Google has indicated for Chrome OS, Kaul said.
"The service is primarily directed at people in markets where PC's are quite unusual," Kaul said. Ericsson is aiming at emerging markets where access to a home PC may be too expensive for many to afford. In more developed markets, focus will be on young people aged eight to 14 and older.
What's common to these customers is that they want simplicity.
"It takes five seconds to get going. The user does not need to worry about data storage or program updates and, not least, they need not worry about viruses," Kaul said.
Kaul wouldn't speculate on how big the service might become, but several deals are on their way. One of them is with an operator in Jamaica, where the service will be offered to schools.
As for applications and other content, the decisions are left to operators, who can deliver different content to African customers than to Indian users. Ericsson is now developing an interface for the European market.