The Stack Archive

The Pepsi P1 smartphone takes consumer lock-in beyond a mere brand app

Mon 12 Oct 2015

The Pepsi drinks company is set to launch its own Android-based smartphone in China on the 20th of this month according to Tech Sina (Chinese language). Mobipicker spotted the first signs last Friday when initial information began to emerge on Weibo about the release, which will be revealed in a presentation at Beijing.

At a teen-friendly price of CNY 1,299 (£133 | $205), the Pepsi P1 comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, 1.7GHZ MT6592 system on a chip (SoC), 2gb of RAM, and a relatively pedestrian 16gb of internal storage, but boasts a better-than-average 13-megapixel (rear) and 5-megapixel (front) camera outfit. It will run the Android 5.1 mobile operating system.

The P1 is being manufactured by the Shenzhen HQT Science & Technology Co. Ltd. in Guangdong. More specific details about its configuration and specs will be revealed at the Crowne Plaza Beijing Park View Wuzhou on 20th October.

Using a branded app’s leverage to ensure the presence of marketing content to eager consumers is a model that’s currently under threat, and creating the entire device seems a reasonable marketing response. Apple’s recent mobile OS update iOS 9 began permitting content-blocking, even briefly allowing its own content to be blocked by third-party apps (though Been Choice has since itself been blocked from the iTunes app repository), whilst at the beginning of September Google began to downgrade web-pages which favour incitements to ‘download the app!’ over the display of the actual web-page content. The pressure to retain hermetic consumer environments does therefore seem to be encouraging gaining complete control over them.

A vendor that actually originates the device can do pretty much anything it likes with a consumer so long as the details are hidden somewhere in the 50-page EULA. Sometimes, as Lenovo can attest, even that isn’t necessary. Fabricating an Android phone is a relatively low-effort mix-and-match affair when you’re situated so close to the source manufacturing ecostructure, and it could well be that the only things which distinguish the Pepsi smartphone will be the branded cowling, whatever deal Pepsi have struck with a Chinese network provider…and whatever user settings it has hidden or amended.

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