It's A Mobile Phone. It's a Game Controller. It's Both

Chinese device manufacturer TechFaith is creating a mobile phone that will also function as a motion gaming platform. The bad news is that the device will initially be available only in China.

The situation reminds me of a line from Back to the Future, which I'll paraphrase as: "All the good stuff comes from China." For many reasons, all of them having to do with cost (and cost of living, and, perhaps, a certain lack of interest in human rights), Chinese manufacturers are growing into old fashioned conglomerates of the kind the U.S. used to have in the 1970s and '80s. TechFaith is one of those. Through its many subsidiaries, TechFaith designs phones, manufactures its own designs, designs/manufacturers the underlying wireless doodads that make the phones work, turns those doodads into game motion controllers, and even makes (Chinese-language) games to run on its motion game platforms, and soon, its phones.

In other words, the company has at its disposal all the pieces it needs for this creative new gadget. Can you name a Western company that can do the same? The closest one I can think of is, maybe, IBM, but IBM is busy with other types of fabrication, like chips, not mobile phones.

TechFaith is a virtually unknown brand name in Western consumer markets, but it is a contract manufacturer of mid-to-high-end handsets and motion gaming platform controllers. It is, for instance, the offshore manufacturer for some Windows-based smartphones, the Disney Barbie phone and dual-mode handsets with other brand names. It's also known for a joint agreement with Qualcomm to develop applications for wireless devices.

As I mentioned, in China, TechFaith sells a branded version of the devices it fabricates. This new gaming/phone device will be named 17Phone, a play on the company's brand-name motion controllers, called the 17Wee Motion Game. This is, in turn, a play on the name of another brand of gaming console.

There aren't a lot of technical specifications released yet on the new 17Phone. But because TechFaith manufacturers every kind of mobile phone out there, including dual band GSM/CDMA and 3G touchscreens, it will likely be fairly fancy. It will come preloaded with four free games and gamers can download more from the company's online store.

More to the point, a good idea is a good idea. Here's hoping that someone will offshore this idea in reverse.