Ilkone unveils first Islamic mobile phone

Ilkone has launched the Ilkone i800 mobile phone for the Middle East market. The name ‘ilkone’ derived from the Arabic word meaning universe claims to be the first fully Islamic mobile phone.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  August 17, 2004

Ilkone has launched the Ilkone i800 mobile phone for the Middle East market. The name ‘ilkone’ is driven from an Arab word meaning ‘universe’ claims to be the first fully Islamic mobile phone. “The current size of the GCC mobile phone market is five million units a year, set to grow by 40% annually. The tremendous increase in number of potential first-time users as well as those who keep abreast of latest phone technology and frequently upgrade their phone models is one of the main reasons for the projected growth,” says Saqer Tellawi, CEO of Ilkone. “Products, which are serving niche consumer markets are experiencing greater success than regular mobile devices which only differs in outlooks and colors,” adds Tellawi. He cites that the life cycle of a mobile phone in the region has reduced from two years in 1998 to less than nine months in 2003, making the GCC one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets with highest phone replacement turnover. “Consumers today view mobile phones as devices, which can add value to their self being and inner feelings rather than just as a simple communication tool. Ilkone i800 is specially designed to serve Muslims all across the world to address their needs and add value to their spiritual self being,” says Tellawi. The launch of ilkone i800, which are targeted at the Muslim end-user offers automatic precise prayer timing anywhere in the world, an alarm option which can be set to sound before and after the call to prayer (Azan) with actual Azan voice which could be automatically set to silence throughout prayer. It is also capable of establishing Qibla directions from anywhere in the world, automatically pointing towards Mecca, giving full text of the Holy Qur’an approved by Al-Azhar, with English translations and a search engine. It provides other features such as Hijri calendar converter and automatic alarm for Sohour Imsak and Iftar during Ramadan. Ilkone previewed the phone during Gitex 2003, last October has launched the model launched earlier this year in many markets including Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Sudan, Algeria and the Far East, and will be introduced to the GCC countries and other major Islamic countries by September this year. The 90-gram phone packs in 16 MB of internal memory and comes 40 polyphonic ring tones, WAP 2.0, MMS and a personal organiser with English and Arabic interfaces. The 2G technology, GSM phone is equipped with GPRS Class 12, which gives users fast internet access. It also comes with Hijri and Gregorian calendar and shows the Qibla direction by five methods with prayer times. The built in software gives automatic direction to Mecca. The UAE-based company, also the sole distributor for Samsung’s mobile phones in Middle East and Africa will market the i800 in the region. Other mobile vendors are also getting into the act, sensing the huge market potential. For instance, LG Electronics unveiled a similar phone, the LG-G5300 Qiblah phone, with standard features, last September. The phone, which comes with an inbuilt compass and location-tracking software shows the direction of Mecca. The handset is equipped to identify the direction of Makkah Al Mukkaramah and alerts Islam followers by prayer calls. Similarly Cellucom, a Nokia distributor launched the Uclub, which offers Azan, a mobile phone application for Nokia phones. The Azan application reminds users of prayer times through out the day with based on the Emirate settings specified by the user. Mughamrat a software development company with its Arabic SMS Pro and MAAL (Mobile Advanced Arabic Layer) is working with mobile phone companies to develop similar services for Muslim users. Madar Research pegs the mobile phone subscription base in the Arab world at 35 million this year, outnumbering fixed phone lines estimated at 20 million. By 2006 the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region mobile user base is expected to touch 60 million users with annual increase of 13 to 15 million.

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