As you know, for some weeks now I'm selling the Windows Powered HTC Tanager here from PPCW.Net and the experience I made during these weeks are impressive. Mostly I wonder how much Smart Phone, features and PC functionalities a cell phone should/could include making a user happy but not overstraining him.
I'm working in the GSM industry since 1993 and therefore I grew up with terminals. While my first cell phone - a Nokia 1011 - was a great phone those days, it was - compared to today - a dumb machine. It was good enough for making and receiving voice calls but I even wasn't able to call my mailbox; simply because in these days the carriers hadn't voice mail systems in their networksâ€¦ :-)
Then we got SMS - first as notification for new voice mail messages (MT = Mobile Terminated), later we was able to send SMS messages from one to another handset (MO = Mobile Originated).
After we went through the SMS hype (which is still a growing business) we went to introduce WAP (yes, I was part of WAP as the product manager and business developer for WAP at O2 and it's nothing I have to excuse for ;-) - I believed in WAP and still believe in it. PDA formatted web sites are nothing different but the technology wasn't mature enough (we had no GPRS which makes WAP more convenient today) and the industry introduced a small part of WAP only; something really useful WTAI (Wireless Telephony Application Interface) which increase the comfort of making and receiving voice calls was never introduced, unfortunately) and this was the phase for me where I started to realize that the GSM industry is introducing technologies and services the user isn't used to use.
Today, we have MMS, i-Mode, Vodafone Live, T-Mobile T-Zones, O2 Active and smart devices like Microsoft's Smartphones or Nokia Series 60 and I really wonder how much off all this stuff is really used by customers?
In fact - and that's an interesting experience - I get a lot of feedback from PPCW.Net i-Mate users who ran into troubles with functionalities of their Smartphone. For instance first time switching on the i-Mate. Since it is flashed with the latest ROM switching on might takes some time and it needs several reboots to initialize correct. If you interrupt the phone during this phase it crashes and you have to hard reset it. While hard resetting a Pocket PC or even Smartphone isn't that big deal for gadget geeks, MVPs or Microsoft employees, the normal user isn't used to hard reset a GSM phone.
Also the mass of functionalities seems to completely overload a user; best example is my girlfriend. While she is a complete GSM fan (she even doesn't have a fixed line at home but her mobile phone only) all the features, functionalities and different GUIs makes her such nervous, that she is currently using 20 % of all features only.
What I'm not wanted here is to complain the Microsoft Smartphone platform or even the Nokia Series 60 platform (I gave here - just for comparison a Nokia 7650 and she ran into the same problems). No, the simple question I ask is how much features a user want to have today and if he is really using all the futures he asked before. Also I wonder how much a user expects a PC in his phone and how long it takes that users find it normal to have such intelligent and feature rich devices in the pocket.
What is you experience with that kind of feature and smart phones? Do you own one and why did you bought it? Do you use all the features you have asked for/the phone offers you or do you reduce your smart phone to a normal cell phone at the end of the day?
Cheers ~ Arne