A few years ago everyone realised it was suddenly easy to make MP3 players, then they realised it was a lot harder to profitably make MP3 players. Well this time the trend has come around to smartphones...
Joining the likes of have-a-go newcomers Acer (via the E-TEN purchase) and Garmin is display specialist ViewSonic which has claimed it will launch its first models into China, followed by Europe and the Americas.
ViewSonic gave no details whatsoever of the models it has lined up but claimed its heritage in screens "plays an important role in the development of smartphones" - yes, but just one part.
"With 20 years of display experience this is a natural extension of our product expertise," said ViewSonic chairman and CEO James Chu taking something of a leap."This is an important strategic step for ViewSonic, as it allows us to apply our display technology to an even larger and rapidly growing worldwide market."
Viewsonic also went on to quote all sorts of statistics showing the massive potential for growth in the smartphone market but I can't help but feel all this is slightly naive. Don't get me wrong, competition is good - nay vital - but there's a lot more to smartphones than a decent screen. In fact that's just a bit you can outsource.
In reality, the key to modern smartphone success is in a) the software (Android or Windows Mobile we'd have to expect) and b) lengthy, mind numbing negotiations with close minded telcos across the globe. After all E-TEN made a stream of innovative, high spec smartphones for many years (its models had VGA screens and GPS in 2007!) but it lacked the muscle to gain telco acceptance and sold up to Acer in 2008 for a relatively tiny £145.3m. Good deal or not, 14 months on we're still waiting for Acer to come up with anything substantial.
So good luck ViewSonic. I'm hugely sceptical but I wish you all the luck in the world...