Is It A Web-TV? Is It A Mobile? Meet Vodafone’s Webbox

When is a smartphone not a smartphone? When it’s a connected-TV platform!

Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) is bringing to emerging markets a “Webbox” – a self-contained, SIM-toting keyboard that runs Android and plugs in to any TV set, giving users a simple desktop-like internet experience.

Imagine Motorola’s Atrix, the phone that also powers a laptop.

Vodafone’s thinking Webbox could give families, schools and businesses in Africa their first full-time internet access without needing fixed-line broadband. It’s bundled with Opera Mini, web, SMS, email etc.

The gadget is designed for 2G and EDGE networks, but Opera Mini works by compressing web pages by up to 90 percent using pre-cacheing.

Retail will start in South Africa. No prices yet.