Hello Mobile Phone Manufacturers, Can you Hear us?
For quite some time, gadget users have been witnessing a war among the mobile manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung, RIM, LG, Motorola, HTC and so on. The war to add on to 'flashy' features and to create a niche of its own has been the barrier that mobile phone manufacturers are challenging each others' frontiers, especially in this smartphone era.
However in this war of adding new features, probably one aspect that many of such product developers may be forgetting is that a huge segment of mobile phone users may not have the inclination towards high end technology so as to explore the new features that are getting added. However, many would like the basic features to remain the core offering for few handsets.
It is important to understand the differences of technology adoption and technology assimilation cycles amongst the various consumer segments that these companies have. Here, I am strictly discussing the needs of a generation of mobile users, who often see the mobile phone's usage limited to making calls and texting (that too, not very frequently). They typically belong to the age band of 45 and above, and sometimes also are pretty young, but have a lesser affinity towards new technology. Besides age, there are other important factors like knowledge, cultural aspects or risk perception which affects the adoption or assimilation of technology (remember the Technology Acceptance Models, or the theories like Diffusion of Innovation?). These issues may be even more relevant for the firms targeting the developing economies.
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With the onslaught of the touch screen smartphones, such users are increasingly finding it difficult to have a phone, which is simple to use and yet is of a decent quality and offers the facilities that age old models used to offer them. I am often reminded of the age old Nokia 3310 or Nokia 1100 by many of these users, which used to be their favorite. The very basic phones launched for such a target market, often have many shortcomings, according to these segment of users. Most complain about how frequently they need to recharge their phone nowdays and the connection quality. Others complain that they find it increasingly difficult to handle the "touch screens". In fact, many of the mobile phone (even smart phone) users tell me they would not mind shelling out a bit more, if their phones had better battery support (say a talktime of 15-20 hours, which would require a single charging every week) instead of flashy apps. Maybe these developers would benefit from higher sales if they could use some sort of customer knowledge management systems while designing the products targeted at these segments, who may not be using the popular gadget forums to voice their opinions.