Friday, October 05, 2007

People who create and sell mobile services don't actually use them (Shock!)

See here for the full story.
"among the mobile operator, media player, content owner, developer and retailer execs in attendance, 56 percent said they employ mobile web services on a daily basis, but rarely if ever capitalize on mobile TV and music services."

This definitely rings true with me, although more from an implementor of mobile services than an executive viewpoint ;-) I've been working on various mobile messaging and music services since 2003. Yet I don't use them regularly, for some or all of the following reasons:
  • Price: Why do I need to pay a mobile premium? Full Track Music delivered Over The Air for a 50-100% surcharge? No thanks. Ringtones are a notorious rip-off - up to 3 euros for a jingle I can manufacture myself for free. Even SMS and MMS, although comparitively inexpensive, make me angry because I know that the 15 cents per message is more than 20 times the network cost of transferring the message. I know I'm being suckered, and that modifies my consumption behavour.
  • User Experience: Mostly sucks. Small screen, awkward typing, tinny sound, poor video. These are part and parcel of using a mobile phone for sending messages, taking pictures, and playing audiovisual media.
  • Better alternatives: For messaging, why not use the laptop? Sure it's less spontaneous, but the quality improves (how many times have you read an unconsidered, poorly written, one-line email, and then right below the reason is proudly presented - "sent from my wireless handheld"). If you want to take a picture, why not use a decent camera? For music and video, any digital player is going to beat the available phones for the simple use case of playing a song. Who says that we only want 1 gadget, when 2 use cases are distinct enough to warrant 2 gadgets?
Disclaimer - I should note that I'm not a total Luddite, I do use many of the features mentioned above on my Blackberry Pearl. However the difference is that I use them as fallback features when a proper computer, camera or ipod is not available.

Note - although I've not yet tried out the new GPS phones, I'm suspicious that there too a compromise in GPS usability will be noticeable compared to a pure GPS device. I have separate GPS devices for driving and walking, and I would be surprised if a single GPS device could optimise both use cases, never mind as an offshoot of a mobile phone.

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