View Full Version : Over half the users in the world can't be wrong


slitchfield
03-09-2005, 03:48 PM
Steve muses on the way most of the media ignore Symbian and trumpet Pocket PC (http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/features/viewarticle.php?id=192), in the face of figures which (to him) seem completely the other way around.

Masamune
03-09-2005, 07:18 PM
The thing is, most people don't realise what constitutes a smartphone and don't realise what their phone can do. For example, the Nokia 3230 sponsers the X-Factor (dear God, isn't that car crash TV?) and will doubtless bolster sales. Only about 10% of those will know they have a Series 60 phone. Once people start realising what their phones can do (and they will when the N90 & N91 start coming down in price), then Windoze Smartphones will be nothing more than a blip on sales radars.

slitchfield
03-09-2005, 08:15 PM
The thing is, most people don't realise what constitutes a smartphone and don't realise what their phone can do. For example, the Nokia 3230 sponsers the X-Factor (dear God, isn't that car crash TV?) and will doubtless bolster sales. Only about 10% of those will know they have a Series 60 phone. Once people start realising what their phones can do (and they will when the N90 & N91 start coming down in price), then Windoze Smartphones will be nothing more than a blip on sales radars.

In fairness to Microsoft, I don't think Windows Smartphones (like the C500) were included in the Canalys figures, being seen as less capable than the Symbian models. Or maybe it's because they're branded more heavily by the networks, e.g. Orange.

Certainly standalone PDAs have only a niche future ahead of them. Smartphone sales will double again by this time in 2006, while standalone sales will halve. And magazines like PDA Essentials might (with a little prompting from me) become Smartphone Essentials 8-) You never know....

Steve Litchfield

krisse
03-09-2005, 09:52 PM
I think the lack of coverage of smartphones in general is because these journalists are often PDA purists who think only something that actually looks like a PDA really is a PDA. Many are aghast at the lack of a touch screen on Series 60, for example, even though it doesn't make much difference in practice as most people are well-versed in using keypads with their phones.

"Pure" PDA magazines and journalists a dying breed along with their "pure" PDAs, the PDA is effectively now a novelty compared to a phone and in the age of smartphones most people don't need or want a separate electronic organiser.

It's like hi-fi enthusiasts' magazines, they'll often review hi-fi separates and turn up their nose at combined stereo systems or iPods, yet it's the combined systems and iPods that everyone buys because they match ordinary people's needs much more closely.

It's also partly the marketing, which is aimed at real people rather than technology enthusiasts. Nokia puts the same smartphone innards in lots of different Symbian models but pitches each model at a very specific audience. There's much to recommend this approach because if you tell the average person that their phone can do everything under the sun, they'll often react by saying "oh but I just wanted it for the camera/MP3 playback/email really, don't want to go overboard". I know otherwise perfectly sensible people bitter about the fact that their cheap basic phones have built-in games, they say stuff like "I don't want to pay for stuff I don't want!"

It's no good explaining economies of scale to customers, it's much better to just sell them smartphones based on a pitch that revolves around one or two features and nothing else.

A lot of journalists don't understand that this pitch is pretty cosmetic and at their heart smartphones all have a surprisingly powerful computer.

How many people, even professional consultants, realise you can create and maintain a website with a $99 N-Gage QD for example? Very few because it's been pitched as a console/phone fusion. Of course it isn't really, it's a full Symbian smartphone with the keys laid out in a style more suitable for playing games, and if you take the time to buy and install the appropriate applications you can do almost anything with it that other PDAs can do.

martinharnevie
03-09-2005, 11:54 PM
I think the lack of coverage of smartphones in general is because these journalists are often PDA purists who think only something that actually looks like a PDA really is a PDA.

This is one important reason.

The other reason is that computing & gadget mags are dominated by Americans. Symbian is the only non-US widely spread operating system. The US not-invented-here attitude is very strong. Symbian's penetration of the US market is not as significant as elsewhere. This makes it easier for them to ignore Symbian.

Furthermore, the media is often referring back on the traditional league of technology market researchers, who are exclusively US based, e.g. Gartner, IDC, Forrester and the like. In particular Gartner was for a long time seen as the mother of technology market researchers, but today we also know that they often work on behalf of Microsoft and a significant portion of their revenue comes from Microsoft. Gartner has for close to a decade repeatedly proclaimed the irrelevance and predicted the demise of Symbian/EPOC. It is quite likely that much more of the US based technology media - and more importantly the information sourcing business - is also somewhat funded by Microsoft. It's only in recent years that non-US market researches have gained recognition, e.g. Canalys.

krisse
04-09-2005, 02:35 PM
Yet another reason: Americans tend to be more anti-cell phone than Europeans or Asians. America has a lot of money but also a low population density so cellular phone coverage is very patchy there as it's not as economical to set up phone masts. (It's a similar situation with public transport of course.)

Many American analysts don't fully comprehend quite how ingrained in European and Asian culture the Cell Phone now is, so they can't understand why Symbian is in such a strong position.

Every potential PDA customer in Europe and Asia already has a mobile phone which they have with them all the time, and phone-based functions are the main reason they carry a mobile device. PDA-functions are nice extras for most Europeans & Asians, but it's the phone that comes first. If you offer them a PDA that looks and works like a phone, they're far more likely to buy it than Americans.

Even more on Symbian's side is that it's owned by almost every major phone manufacturer in the world (except Motorola) and millions of people are probably getting Symbians without even realising it, simply buying a phone with software or operator-added software that they find useful or entertaining.

Ordinary Europeans and Asian need a device that always lets them make and receive calls, send and receive messages and access the internet, which is what smartphones let you do, and not surprisingly it's Europeans and Asians who are the biggest users of Symbian phones.

Instead, American analysts seem obsessed with wi-fi to the extent of totally ignoring its shortcomings and talking as if there's no better alternative. The idea of using mobile phone networks as internet connections seems totally ignored by them, they talk as if it isn't physically possible to access the internet wirelessly outside a hotspot, yet this is what people have been doing for years with smartphones.

There are wi-fi hotspots springing up all the time, but they're the internet equivalent of phone booths: you have to search for them, you have to be near them to use them, you (usually) have to pay to use them and you can't change location while using them. They'll never be a substitute for phones, yet I've read column after column from American pundits suggesting that internet voice services at short range wi-fi hotspots could replace cell phones.

The central flaw with the "VOIP wi-fi will kill cell phones" is this: How is someone with a wi-fi device meant to know they have a call to receive if they're away from a hotspot?

For Europe and Asia it's the calls-anywhere ability that's most important about a phone, and it's the phone ability that's most important about a mobile device. American "experts" often just don't seem to get this simple truth.


The other reason is that computing & gadget mags are dominated by Americans. Symbian is the only non-US widely spread operating system. The US not-invented-here attitude is very strong. Symbian's penetration of the US market is not as significant as elsewhere. This makes it easier for them to ignore Symbian.

Well, it makes very little difference because the whole growth of true mass market devices isn't driven by people who read technology surveys.

The safest option is to go with what you know, and I'm sure when PlayStation and iPod came on the market analysts were very sceptical because they were made by companies totally new to the field. The market showed them otherwise.

malbry
04-09-2005, 05:18 PM
As usual, Steve is right on with his comments. And it's not just American journalists. In today's Sunday Times they recommend a 'Phone that's a Palmtop' (Windows Mobile device) and a 'Palmtop that's a Phone' (Palm device, or was it an HP IPAQ?). Now you'd think that somewhere or other an S60, UIQ or S80 device would get at least a mention - wouldn't you? And, while on the subject, how about the Sunday Times acknowledging the market-leading position of a British company: Symbian?

Nothing, nada, zippo.

Regards,
Malcolm
www.freepoc.org

slitchfield
04-09-2005, 05:48 PM
As usual, Steve is right on with his comments. And it's not just American journalists. In today's Sunday Times they recommend a 'Phone that's a Palmtop' (Windows Mobile device) and a 'Palmtop that's a Phone' (Palm device, or was it an HP IPAQ?). Now you'd think that somewhere or other an S60, UIQ or S80 device would get at least a mention - wouldn't you? And, while on the subject, how about the Sunday Times acknowledging the market-leading position of a British company: Symbian?

Some of this is down to lack of action of Nokia and Symbian's PR departments, of course. Between them you'd have thought they could match the apparent press-influencing power of the likes of HP.

Steve

krisse
04-09-2005, 09:09 PM
As usual, Steve is right on with his comments. And it's not just American journalists. In today's Sunday Times they recommend a 'Phone that's a Palmtop' (Windows Mobile device) and a 'Palmtop that's a Phone' (Palm device, or was it an HP IPAQ?). Now you'd think that somewhere or other an S60, UIQ or S80 device would get at least a mention - wouldn't you? And, while on the subject, how about the Sunday Times acknowledging the market-leading position of a British company: Symbian?

It's possibly bought editorial space, Symbian didn't pony up so they didn't get a mention.

On the other hand, like I suggested earlier, maybe we've all missed a trick here.

Maybe it actually helps sales to NOT tell people it's a PDA, to just say it's a phone that can also do E-mail or instant messenger or web browsing or video or music or whatever you're marketing the model as. If that's the route to mainstream acceptance, it's also the best way of making Symbian the de facto standard OS for mobile devices.

Techies would obviously go for an all-singing all-dancing device, but most people only want a phone with one or two extra features that they actually want to use.

There was an article on here a while back by Ewan describing how he happened to show the built-in calendar software on his Symbian phone to a friend, and the friend was so impressed that the next day he went out and bought an identical phone, purely based on the calendar.

When a friend of mine saw me using Agile Messenger on my Symbian, she was amazed that phones could do that, and I showed her the e-mail too. She went out and bought one the next day, purely on the strength of being able to use messenger and e-mail, because those were the two things she used the most on her PC. I mentioned the video and audio stuff to her after she'd bought the phone but she just laughed at that, all she wanted was to communicate.

Symbian isn't meant to induce drooling in techies (who are a tiny fraction of the market anyway), it's meant to be easy to customise and sell to anyone for whatever they consider a priority (add a good camera for photographers, add editing software for camcorder enthusiasts, add a good joypad for a gaming phone, add a hard disk to make it into an iPod etc).

Those who want to mess about with installing extra applications can obviously do so, and that's why the people on this site love these phones so much, but maybe a more simple approach is a better hook for people to get one. Once they have it, then they might get adventurous and install some other stuff, but to begin with they know they're getting a good phone with good extras at the very least.

You and I know Symbian phones can all do so much more than just their specialities, but maybe most people don't care, all they want is a decent phone and one or two other features.

In a Symbian it's incredibly easy for the people selling it (even phone operators and customers themselves) to add those features or even change them without changing the hardware or firmware.

martinharnevie
05-09-2005, 12:45 AM
Well, it makes very little difference because the whole growth of true mass market devices isn't driven by people who read technology surveys.

True, but somewhat irrelevant.

It's a chain reaction: Gartner and the like feeds into technology & industry media. Technology & industry media feeds into mainstream media. And mainstream media feeds into public awareness.

That's why biased reports from people like Gartner will ultimately have a role in Steve having a reason to write his leading article.

Enizmitic
05-09-2005, 02:38 AM
It's interesting that i came accross this article. The other day, i was listening to a radio show in Australia where they had a so called 'Technology Specialiast' on to answer a callers question: "I need a convergence device, one which gives me a phone, some PDA capabilities, in a simple and compact package. The 'Technology Specialist' reccomended and praised the Ipaq, and reccomended the treo and verious MS Smartphones, without skipping a beat. Was he misinformed or biased? More than likely both.

Australia has experienced a decent take up of the Symbian platform, but has not recieved as much recognition and respect as this powerful mobile operating system deserves.