The 5 Dumbest Things in the Smartphone World
Here are five of the lowest-hanging fruits:
1. Carrier contracts : This is as much the U.S. consumer's fault as is it the carriers' fault.
The U.S. consumer is apparently incapable of doing basic math. The consumer takes a $150-$450 subsidy up-front, for the benefit of paying $1,080 or so in higher monthly charges over two years ($45 in monthly savings multiplied by 24 months). In the meantime, the consumer has a device that's locked to one carrier, with zero flexibility.
Basically, the U.S. consumer is so stupid so as to look at the Day 1 price but not consider what he or she is really paying over two years. I could draw a political analogy, but we're talking about the 47% here... or perhaps a much bigger number: Give me free stuff today; who cares about what it will really cost me over the life of the agreement.
You can buy your Android, iOS or other device for cash up-front and save mostly $45 per month -- or perhaps even more -- but the U.S. consumer is either too uneducated or to poorly proficient in basic math to bother. When I see this, it's small wonder our society is drowning in debt and irrationality. Very discouraging.
2. Tiny batteries : Regardless of platform -- Apple (AAPL) , Google (GOOG) , Microsoft (MSFT) , BlackBerry -- I believe 99% of people are complaining about crummy battery life. Depending on how you use your device, most people are getting five to 10 hours of battery life. That's dramatically unacceptable. Battery life needs to at least double in order for customer satisfaction to be reasonable.
On the other hand, I believe perhaps 1% of smartphone buyers complain their device isn't thin enough.
Okay, so what do we have here? 99% of people complain about poor battery life, 1% complain that their device is too thick. Seems to me that every smartphone maker should focus on adding a couple of millimeters in thickness in exchange for doubling the battery life.
This is a classic case of manufacturers totally misjudging the customer base. There is some sort of collective disease among all the smartphone makers here, force-feeding the consumers too-thin devices when they would rather have a slightly thicker device with double the battery life.
3. Android skins : Google's pure Android Nexus is an excellent operating system, but it's being fragmented and butchered by the various hardware makers. If you have a good thing, what do you do? Create umpteenth variants of it, all of them inferior and confusing!
Make sure that different Androids have different kinds of buttons -- some soft, some actual physical buttons -- and that they are put in different places, and then make sure that all menus look different from device to device. Therefore, someone switching from one Android device to another -- from Samsung to HTC to LG (LGL) to Sony (SNE) , etc. -- will be totally confused.