... what exactly happened to all those mid-tier featurephone platforms from a few years ago? Some of them like TTPCom's Ajar got absorbed into larger companies (eg Motorola) and essentially disappeared. Other browser/messaging based platforms like OpenWave's MIDAS framework and Obigo's mobile platform haven't exactly set the world on fire either.
But one platform that has been ticking along is Qualcomm's BREW - which appears in various guises from a sort of Java-esque virtual machine for games, to a UI layer, to an almost-full OS on some Japanese phones.
It's reappeared again on what appears to be an Internet-centric featurephone from a new handset company called INQ, which has also been involved in 3's Skypephone device. In fact, INQ appears to be owned/controlled by Hutchison, and has a number of other inexpensive <$200 (wholesale) Internet-phones. There's a good interview with the CEO here.
This makes a lot of sense to me. Handsets like the iPhone are great for web access - but much too expensive for the average teenager on a $12 ARPU using prepay, who wants to check FaceBook 12 times a day through a decent interface. Many of the existing smartphones are too complex with dozens of useless apps and menus.
I see this as a way to move a huge tier of people away from today's Voice+SMS, towards Voice+SMS+Web. You don't need a smartphone for this - a well-engineered featurephone is perfectly adequate, and much cheaper.