23 December 2006

Why can't a mobile be more like a phone?

Mobiles are in the news. According to this item, 2.7 billion mobile phones were in use at the end of 2006 and phones are going to become even more feature-laden in the future.

This is a bit of a hobbyhorse of mine. I must be odd. I want a phone with great battery life and long talk time and it needs to be able to offer clear calls and be simple to use. I happen to use both IR and Bluetooth so they would be good, too. I have held on to my second Nokia 6310i well past its normal working life because I thought it was close to being the ideal business phone. However, dropping it on the floor periodically hasn't improved its functionality, and the disappearance of the ring function a few weeks ago prompted a look for a replacement.

Finding that replacement hasn't been easy. I have eventually settled on one but it isn't ideal. It has Bluetooth but no IR. It still has the consumers' must-haves (the MP3 player, the camera and the video camera) but it also has my must haves - well over 300 hours stand-by or about 6 hours talk time. Those are the features which explain why I got it. This comes back to something that I posted here - benefits are individual and when we are trying to sell something to an audience we are taking a judgement about the benefits that will be attractive. If I had been face to face with a mobile phone salesperson, they would quickly have de-emphasised their pitch about cameras and MP3 players and focused on what I was looking for. This deal was put together more remotely, so I was working with the sales pitch put together for a more general audience which wasn't written with me in mind. I still bought the phone, but I am still irritated that it has 'features' that I have no intention of using.

Interestingly, it has a benefit which I hadn't thought about but which I actually value - it isn't too small - it is very slim, but it is wide so it feels like a proper phone. I have small hands, but I find that an extraordinary number of handsets have been designed to be held by six-year olds (maybe that is where the real money is to be made ...).

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