Mobiles slipping on form factor

While technology is getting deeply rooted in mobiles - it is slipping on the form factor front and vendors need to be simple in conveying right message across to its market segment.

With global handset manufacturers like Nokia, LG, Samsung, Motorola or Sony Ericcson going all out towards making sure that their products remain cutting-edge and technologically advance. It is the form factor that is likely to loose out on the visibility matrix.

Today, Nokia is trying to meet worldwide demand for its latest edition of the communicator 9500. The communicator is basically a phone that's also a PDA with a small keyboard. XDAs and IPAQs, touchscreen PDAs that double up as phones, abound. And camera phones with flash and telescopic zoomlenses have already arrived in the market.

What does all this tell us? One, everybody is trying hard to stuff everything in one gadget. And the definitive form that wows us all into an immediate run to stores is still as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The first problem is a non-issue. It will solve itself. Moore's law, the rule that says computer chips double on the capacity side while their size gets reduced - has just ended an uninteruptable 40 year reign in the personal computing arena, but immediately found a new lease of life in the wonderful world of mobile communications. Before you know it, TV camera computing and radio chips will fit in a piece of silicon that resembles a small button, both in terms of size and price as well.

The second problem, the form factor issue, is quite a bit prickly. It's a problem on several levels. To begin with, it's about the physical shape of a device. Long and narrow or fat or slim? How big the screen should be? Keyboard attached or no keyboards? Clamshell or candy bar? It may sound a bit unusual but Nokia's belated adoption of the clamshell shape shows that it can matter quite a bit on a global scale.

But the next level is the most important and difficult of all - what do I tell my consumers about the gadget that I am trying to sell them? It is a phone? It is a camera? It is a PDA or is it something completely new that's not yet in the dictionary of gadgets?

This is a serious issue. It explains why manufacturers keep investing millions of dollars into new ideas and services that are hardly used by anybody.

A simple lesson to be learnt is the fact that people all around the world hate complexity. A phone is for communication, clear and simple. So give people a phone a they'll use it for voice and text. That does'nt mean that you cant sell them anything else - just don't call it a phone.

It's the message that counts. And in future it will count even more. In a few months time high-end phones will have 5 to 8 mega pixel cameras and 2 GB to 5 GB hard disk drives or flash memory for storing entertainment files. Performance and power consumption will be reduced tremendously by using dual core processors. Capabilities will keep expanding towards new realms.

But confusion will reign and sales will drop in the long run if vendors do not address these simple issues - if we don't get one thing right - to find the right functionality and above all the right message to describe it. The biggest designers of the 20th century already knew it - find the function and the form will follow.

author: Zia Askari

See more on: - Telephony Articles

© Startpage Ireland 2004 - 2024