I’m a smartphone customer just like you. This past week, I returned my T-Mobile Vibrant after testing it for a week.
Beautiful display. Great voice quality and speakerphone. Lots of Android apps–more than I would ever use. Reasonable price with a two year contract.
So why did I return it? As a mobile blogger who’s written about and used mobile phones for a decade, why were my expectations not met?
Smartphone Customer Sophistication Increasing
In the case of the Samsung Vibrant, three factors caused me to return it Poor 3G reception inside my townhouse, fast battery drain and the inability to adjust movement sensitivity, causing applications to suddenly launch on their own. A fluke? After spending an hour last night reading T-Mobile Vibrant forum customers talking about similar experiences, I think not.
But I’m more concerned about rising smartphone customer expectations. The media, encouraged by the mobile industry, haven’t educated consumers about the limitations of always-on devices. Online publishers have convinced their readers that smartphones can do anything and everything.
With some exceptions, the media too have done a poor job informing consumers about the smartphone limitations. As a result, many consumers have unrealistic expectations.
Before mobile phones became “smart,” most cell owners were satisfied with clear voice calls, fast texting and and monthly bills. Phone users didn’t expect blazing 3G/4G web surfing, 1 Ghz processors, streaming video, social networking, GPS mapping, 8 megapixel digital cameras, high resolution screens, theater quality sound or mobile apps. Few of these sophisticated features were available until Apple released the iPhone in 2007. The “smartphone customer” didn’t exist.
Customers Embrace Smartphones
Times have changed. Consumers, whether buying their first smartphones or upgrading to better ones, demand more features and better performance.
This trend is especially notable among “mobile intensives,” coined by Joy Liuzzo at InsightExpress. Intensives are smartphone owners who use all or most of their device’s features. Whether iPhone, Android, Samsung or BlackBerry devotees, mobile intensives through social media are convincing their friends to upgrade.
Mobile Ecosystem Expands
In response to the growing demand for smartphones, handset manufacturers, carriers, application developers and the media feverishly develop, market and review new phones weekly. Marketers use social media
Advertisers and brands now believe that mobile is a viable medium. They’re testing strategies that drive high customer response within apps and and on mobile websites.
The competition is intense and bloody. Consumers want better quality smartphones with more features. Manufacturers fight for higher market share. Carriers and operators compete for higher consumer ARPU (average revenue per user) and low churn rates.
App developers fight for higher market share and profits. Publishers who cover the smartphone customer review the latest models. And Mobile buyers increasingly buy smartphones based on brand and quality.
That, in turn, will help all players in the mobile ecosystem to share the wealth in the global communications revolution.