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View Full Version : How the mobile phone biz lost the plot


edesignuk
May 22, 2007, 07:22 AM
The Nokia Communicator, a phone that can check all the "cool boxes", has no vibrate. The Sony Ericsson P990, loaded with more bullet points than a US Marine, has had the much acclaimed 5-way jog dial of its predecessors tragically neutered. The Samsung X820, which has a UI fast enough to make Nokia owners weep with nostalgic despair, has no automatic keylock. The K-series Sony Ericssons, otherwise almost perfect phones, have SIM card slots designed to punish the world's nail-biters and tragically have neglected a volume setting for message alerts.Full article. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/22/mobile_phones_lose_users/page2.html)

Just an interesting article that sums up the mobile/cell situation nicely. When I look at what phone to get next time my contract renews nothing really jumps out at me, there's nothing I really, really want, and there damn well should be. What's wrong with these companies?? Nothing but bloated crappy useless "innovations" that do absolutely nothing to distinguish themselves or make them more useful.

Mobile TV, are you kidding me? :rolleyes: Mobile video calling died just about as well as home video calling did. People don't want to carry their phones out in front of their faces, they're supposed to be away in your pocket. Mobile TV, pffffft!

All this 24/18 month contract ************ is incredibly annoying too. They're now making it so you get bugger all if you opt for 12 months practically forcing you in to two years.
That Nokia still has the market share that it does today can only be explained by dark art of "brand psychology". The N-series must surely take the cake as the world's most ill-conceived range of phones, being slower than treacle, as reliable as Windows 3.1 and clearly designed by a committee of unloved marketing droids.I like this bit, my thoughts exactly.

skunk
May 22, 2007, 07:32 AM
Nail, meet head. You're absolutely right: I don't even want a phone these days because they are all complete crap. I'm just putting up with my awful Nokia N-something-or-other until the iPhone appears. Ms Skunk has a Nokia 3210 which she has resolutely and wisely refused to upgrade for several years.

MacBoobsPro
May 22, 2007, 07:45 AM
Same here. I only got a Moto SLVR because it was the best looking at the time. I even switched providers to get it. :rolleyes: There is nothing that makes me want a new phone, even though my SLVR is a pile of crap and has been in for repair twice.

So I am willing to pay £300 for the iPhone when it reaches these crappy brown waters.

tomoisyourgod
May 22, 2007, 07:53 AM
I'm not into all these phones myself, I don't want a camera and everything else that goes with it on a phone.

I just want to make calls.

As for the iPhone, it is the only phone that has other uses apart from making calls, and that's the inclusion of the iPod.

It's a great, useful product.

Then again, what else do you expect from :apple: ?

geese
May 22, 2007, 07:42 PM
Nail, meet head. You're absolutely right: I don't even want a phone these days because they are all complete crap. I'm just putting up with my awful Nokia N-something-or-other until the iPhone appears. Ms Skunk has a Nokia 3210 which she has resolutely and wisely refused to upgrade for several years.

What a good article. My Nokia N73, is annoyingly slightly faulty. Things seems to go wrong on it for a week then go away. For instance, it'd crash on an incoming call for a week, but no more. Now it resets when you push the volume up button.

I wouldnt say it had Windows 3.1 stability though, more like Windows ME.

PlaceofDis
May 22, 2007, 07:47 PM
i need/want a new phone, and this is spot on, there is nothing interesting out there. the only two phones that i'm remotely looking at are both by moto, the SLVR and the KRAZR, but they're hardly perfect solutions either.

ravenvii
May 22, 2007, 09:10 PM
Funny how people are all talking about how bleak and boring the cellphone landscape is, and how Apple is going to storm in and change the face of the industry forever.

And the iPhone isn't even out yet.

Man, if that thing fails there are going to be MANY rolling heads...

jsw
May 22, 2007, 09:23 PM
<much truth>
Agreed, entirely. Features should be added if and only if the previous features aren't adversely affected. I remember back when my phone was never, ever off, and it always worked.

Now? Yeah, it's cool I can view SVG graphics on websites. But it's not so cool when the damned thing reboots when a call comes in, or locks up loading email, or tells me it's out of memory whilst browsing the first page of a simple website after it was just turned on and 50+MB of memory is still available.

reimerd10
May 22, 2007, 10:46 PM
I might be going on a bit of a whim here but I think that the only reason these manufacturers get away with selling us this junk is that they force us to accept their subsidies for the phone thus making them nearly free.

The downside to this of course is that we are bound by their contracts and we are forced to pay for our phones monthly instead of up-front. When they subsidize our phones for us and charge us exorbant monthly fee's we're being taken for a ride.

Hopefully apple's no subsidy rumor will turn out to be a reality and finally force these companies to listen to us instead of mess with us.

jsw
May 22, 2007, 10:51 PM
I might be going on a bit of a whim here but I think that the only reason these manufacturers get away with selling us this junk is that they force us to accept their subsidies for the phone thus making them nearly free.
Not true. The manufacturers are not fans of the contract requirements of the service providers. The manufacturers see the service providers, for the most part, as a necessary evil.

solvs
May 22, 2007, 10:58 PM
I had an old Nokia that I kept for years. It sent and received calls, and that was it. Wasn't great, but the battery lasted forever, plan was cheap. Worked ok until Cingular bought out AT&T. Then it started sucking and the replacements they were offering were terrible. Still are. Bad interface, horrible battery life, and all those unneeded features I never use because they don't work. I bought a Moto ROKR because it was cheap and has pretty decent battery life. When it works. Crashes and freezes sometimes for no reason, camera sucks, drops calls, and though the sound is pretty good, you can't actually use the mp3 player without it completely killing the battery. Then you have to wait forever for it to recharge. Still better than my friend's RAZR or the SLVR she got to replace it, and way better than the LGs my parents have, but that's not saying much.

So yeah, I agree. Cell phones suck. The main reason why I want an iPhone, why I'm willing to pay the high price and increase my crappy service, is that Steve made a big deal about how easy it is to use. Especially the most important part, MAKING THE **** CALL! Yeah, camera and web are ok and all, I just want to make some phone calls and check my vm. Make it not suck and I will buy it. It can even suck a little as long as the battery life it good.

Guessing I'm not the only one who feels that way.

nbs2
May 22, 2007, 11:41 PM
Guessing I'm not the only one who feels that way.

I let myself get suckered by the folks that didn't have problems with their phones. My T637 shuts down randomly, has a pretty quiet volume setting and possibly the slowest UI I've ever seen. We'll see how much longer it lasts.

On a side note, it isn't just the phones. My SIM card died last week, and ATT informed me that the replacement was a "one-time favor" and I will be ponying up $25 the next time it happens. Why would the SIM card die, and why would I pay for a new SIM if my contract runs out? Do they really think that I'm that in love with ATT/that cheap that I wouldn't change providers for something as simple as that?

edesignuk
May 23, 2007, 03:02 AM
Funny how people are all talking about how bleak and boring the cellphone landscape is, and how Apple is going to storm in and change the face of the industry forever.

And the iPhone isn't even out yet.

Man, if that thing fails there are going to be MANY rolling heads...The iPhone has no 3G and isn't open to 3rd party apps. It's a long long way from perfect. Not to mention the price.

iBlue
May 23, 2007, 04:28 AM
If it's not one thing it's another with these mobile phones. Usually it's just little trivial things (can't have txt messages vibe AND ring, only one or the other. bad battery life. etc etc etc ad nauseam.)
Can no one (including Apple) just put some more thought into it and intergrate the positives of others into their planning? Even the iPhone; can't swap batteries, not 3G, expensive as hell, subject to massive contracts, not to mention unavailable at the moment. It's just always something.

Not a single phone I really want right now. Not one.

bartelby
May 23, 2007, 04:39 AM
I like my LG Prada except for the following:

It's leather case scratches the screen:rolleyes:
There's no volume control for text message tones
All the audio feedback for button pushing is intensely annoying, no simple "pip" sound.
The mic is mounted on the bottom edge of the phone so it's difficult for people on the other end to hear you.
The battery is the ultimate in *****. Has to be recharged every other night.

nplima
May 23, 2007, 04:41 AM
so... it sounds as if people would be happy to buy the mobile phones of year 2000 and 2001 if they could find them.

My company sells them, but mostly outside of Europe. Of course, if the MacRumors crowd joins forces and decides to place an order for a couple thousand, it's fine with me :D

No, seriously, I don't think that Nokia 3310 or similar phones would have a relevant demand if someone set up shop in NY or London to sell them, regardless of the amount of complaints people make on internet forums about how bloated modern phones are.

Queso
May 23, 2007, 04:53 AM
I have a Nokia 6230 at the moment. When that dies I'll probably just get the 6210 out of the drawer. Glad it's not just me that sees the entire current range of available handsets as utter *****.

The first manufacturer that comes out with something small and simple with long battery life and just normal "phone" features gets a sale from me.

angelneo
May 23, 2007, 04:55 AM
Yes, I was venting to my friend about how unreliable my freakin phone is. All I want is a phone to make calls and texting, with a reliable, responsive and perhaps cool UI. That's all. My current phone runs on windows mobile 5, is not only slow and it hangs. The novelty of Wifi wears off quickly as I don't use email on mobile and I have my laptop with me all the time. bahhhhh..................................

garybUK
May 23, 2007, 05:16 AM
I have the Sony Ericsson K810i

I use the camera a lot with the flash, it's awesome.
I use the 3G Data speeds with my laptop when in hotels etc.
I use the Video calling function with family and friends.

It's stable, reliable, well built, pretty good battery life. It plays MP3 & M4A files absolutely fine.

A lot of problems with these phones tends to come with the buggy software the networks put on the phones, they ship them out with no real-world testing.

rosalindavenue
May 23, 2007, 07:59 AM
I'm using a treo 700p. It does pretty well with email (but no multitasking); and OK as a phone, but that's it. It crashes and requires a hard reset more than once a week, the ringer is not loud enough, and the web browser is creaky and slow. It also syncs well with my practice management software, after about a month of tweaking and service calls. I'm a long time palm user so I was ready for all of this, but I know 95% of users are not. I really know this because at the same time I got my 700p I got one for a co-worker. Her experience has been horrible-- she has no idea what to do when things go south. I have not had time to do any tech support for her so her synching has never worked, and she is trapped with the horrible verizon push mail program. Palm really dropped the ball. They had sole possession of the smartphone field for 5 years, and they didn't get anything accomplished. I can't use an iphone, given the synch difficulties I would experience with my software and the cruddy quality of local AT&T.:(

andiwm2003
May 23, 2007, 08:08 AM
so true. i myself prefer very basic phones that are robust and reliable. none available anymore. the phones with more features usually miss some simple things but are loaded with useless crap. it seems the engineers in those companies suck.

but that trend is not only true for cell phones. you see similar problems with cars, digital cameras and even kitchen gadgets.

well, that's the opportunity for small companies to make a fortune......

iGav
May 23, 2007, 08:20 AM
Man this thread is bitchin'. Teehee.

mpw
May 23, 2007, 08:26 AM
It's note-worthy that the first two phones mentioned are both overdue for replacement, in fact their replacements specs have been announced. The next Nokia communicator will have a vibrate function, a feature previously omitted because of the weight of the phone meaning it could hardly be felt. The next SE still doesn't have the 5way navigation, but instead relies on it's touch-screen interface, a set-up I think I prefer to the iPhone, although I'll not judge it until I've tried it.

...All this 24/18 month contract ************ is incredibly annoying too...
I agree that there's nothing on the market at present that I really want, it annoys me also that SE for example have a range of almost identical phones.
It's interesting that you don't like the longer contracts, a new operator joined the market here last year, where previously there'd been just a single provider and offered 18 and 24 month contracts and really cheap handset deals. The existing monopoly complained to the regulator and now we are still stuck with 12month contracts and only about £50 off the sim-free handset price:mad:

joepunk
May 23, 2007, 01:40 PM
I loved using (for 6 years) my very old Nokia 3285 w/its mono-green screen and no fancy internet/V-Cast crap :D

I'm interested in the SLVR only because it is a candybar and the only one at that on Verizon. I don't care about the v-cast stuff. Although Moto could have put a megapixel on it instead of vga for the same price. Would like black as well instead of the silver colour. Oh well.

I agree on the whole mobile tv. Useless.
When I went to the store the sales person tried to show me the whole v-cast/mobile tv stuff. I just tuned him out.

MacNut
May 23, 2007, 02:15 PM
I've had my current phone for almost 2 years and have not had problems, it does what I want, make phone calls. I don't need anything else out of a cell phone.

jayb2000
May 23, 2007, 02:15 PM
I have the Sony Ericsson K810i

I use the camera a lot with the flash, it's awesome.
I use the 3G Data speeds with my laptop when in hotels etc.
I use the Video calling function with family and friends.

It's stable, reliable, well built, pretty good battery life. It plays MP3 & M4A files absolutely fine.

A lot of problems with these phones tends to come with the buggy software the networks put on the phones, they ship them out with no real-world testing.

Yeah, I have the W810 and it is very good. Good reception, great battery life, plays MP3s, or AACs, video, camera, etc.

I have used Nokia, Motorola, and some of the really crap LG or self branded Sprint phones, this SE is by far the best phone I have used in a long time.

nbs2
May 23, 2007, 02:50 PM
so... it sounds as if people would be happy to buy the mobile phones of year 2000 and 2001 if they could find them.

In all honesty, if I could find a 5110 with BT for syncing contacts with my computer, I would be satisfied.

yg17
May 23, 2007, 03:08 PM
I'm not into all these phones myself, I don't want a camera and everything else that goes with it on a phone.

I just want to make calls.

As for the iPhone, it is the only phone that has other uses apart from making calls, and that's the inclusion of the iPod.

It's a great, useful product.

Then again, what else do you expect from :apple: ?

A ton of phones over the past few years have MP3 and video playback capabilities. The iPhone isn't the first to do it, I'd hardly call it the only great phone. Other than visual voicemail, it offers nothing that some other phone doesn't offer.

RedTomato
May 23, 2007, 05:35 PM
I've carried the nokia Communicator range for about 5 years, and gone through the entire range - the 9000, 9100, 9200, and 9500.

Loved them cos of the keyboard for texting (I'm deaf and can't make phone calls) and the very large memory meaning I could store thousands of texts on them. (even if they were the size and weight of a shithouse brick)

Many other deafs had them too, however they had a huge design flaw - no vibrate. Even hearing reviewers moaned about this, with one reviewer saying he missed half of his calls through not hearing the ring. No vibrate is unforgiveable for a phone aimed at biz people who are often in meetings or with clients.

The excuse that the phone was too heavy for a vibrate is a new one to me. At the least Nokia could have supplied an external vibrate keyring attachment, maybe one that locked to that particular model phone.

Today, I'm happy with my HTC Wizard. (xda mini s from O2 UK) That's been a revolution in mobile technology for me. QWERTY keyboard, vibrate, camera, large memory etc, all in a package 1/3 the size and weight of the Nokia.

OK so it runs Windows Mobile, but it's worked for me. Setting up email / internet was a doddle - I never got it working properly on the Nokia communicators.

I've just brought a HTC Hermes / Tytn yesterday (Vario ii from T-Mobile UK) because of the front mounted camera meaning I can make sign language mobile videocalls (either to other deaf people or to a sign/voice relay service.) That's a fundamentally new thing in telcommunications for me. (expensive tho at 25-50p/min for a videocall, and no free allowance!)

HTC are the ones with vision and have rocked the mobile world in the last couple of years.

yg17
May 23, 2007, 05:46 PM
HTC are the ones with vision and have rocked the mobile world in the last couple of years.

Ditto. I just got an HTC Herald/P4350 and I absolutely love it. Its truly an awesome phone and does everything I need and then some.

At first, Windows Mobile worried me, but I quickly discovered that WM is one of the few things Microsoft has done right. It's snappy, easy to use, has a ton of features, and I've yet to find a bug or have a crash. Something that other cell phone companies (*cough*motorola*cough* can't seem to do)

tutubibi
May 23, 2007, 06:31 PM
Problem with most people is that you don't want just a phone (=device for making phone calls) but much more (fashion statement, geekness statement, PDA, MP3, whatever).
Do we still call it a phone if making calls is just one of 100 features?

bigandy
May 23, 2007, 06:35 PM
At first, Windows Mobile worried me, but I quickly discovered that WM is one of the few things Microsoft has done right. It's snappy, easy to use, has a ton of features, and I've yet to find a bug or have a crash. Something that other cell phone companies (*cough*motorola*cough* can't seem to do)

I can't agree more. I've had an Orange SPV M600 (the HTC Prophet), and it's fantastic. I have had it crash once or twice, but then what do I expect when I'm overclocking it to run Skype. heh.

edesignuk
May 24, 2007, 04:54 AM
A follow up article: Why we hate the modern mobile phone (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/23/mobile_mailbag/).

rdowns
May 24, 2007, 05:17 AM
What I'd like to see is a device that does all things mentioned in this thread except make phone calls. Would go a long way in ridding us of Annoying Cell Phone People™.

reflex
May 24, 2007, 09:08 AM
My SE K750i is pretty much the perfect phone for me right now. It does everything I need to flawlessly and the interface is very straightforward for those things.

I bought it after the power button on my T68i stopped working reliably. I liked that one a lot too, but the interface on the K750i is really a lot better. And it hasn't crashed once so far (fingers crossed and such).

Shadow
May 24, 2007, 09:11 AM
I've never heard of any phone crashing, expect one with Symbian. But then, arn't phones meant to be an appliance, like a sink which dont crash?

iMeowbot
May 24, 2007, 09:17 AM
I've never heard of any phone crashing, expect one with Symbian. But then, arn't phones meant to be an appliance, like a sink which dont crash?
Even appliances crash now. My clothes washer needed a new logic board a few months back because of that.

PlaceofDis
May 24, 2007, 09:18 AM
I've never heard of any phone crashing, expect one with Symbian. But then, arn't phones meant to be an appliance, like a sink which dont crash?

plenty of times i've opened up my phone to be greeted with a blank white screen. totally locked up. cell phones have an OS now with microchips in them. their tiny little computers like everything else these days.

bartelby
May 24, 2007, 09:24 AM
A follow up article: Why we hate the modern mobile phone (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/23/mobile_mailbag/).

Some good replies in there. I liked this one the best, especially the bit I've bolded.

How can you mention the iPhone without bringing up it's own glaring faults? The lack of 3G, the fact that the phone is huge, it's ridiculous cost and and the fact that it doesn't really have any functionality that you can't get today despite being quite a long way from launch in Europe at least. All of that makes for a phone that in my opinion is dead before launch apart from the iPod diehards who'll get it simply because it's made from Apple and is white.
Otherwise a good article, the only other thing I missed was mention of Windows smartphones.

Christian Hass

dextertangocci
May 24, 2007, 01:07 PM
I've always disliked cell phones. All I care about is calling, and maybe using it as a modem for my Macbook sometimes. I rarely sms. Music on a cell phone is useless. PDA phones are also pointless. They have such limited functionality. How do you type a document, or long email, or browse the web comfortably? They are too big too comfortably use as a phone.

I just got a Samsung X820 because it looks cool:D

Definitey getting and iPhone in June:)

yayaba
May 24, 2007, 01:22 PM
I have the Sony Ericsson K810i

I use the camera a lot with the flash, it's awesome.
I use the 3G Data speeds with my laptop when in hotels etc.
I use the Video calling function with family and friends.

It's stable, reliable, well built, pretty good battery life. It plays MP3 & M4A files absolutely fine.

A lot of problems with these phones tends to come with the buggy software the networks put on the phones, they ship them out with no real-world testing.

Yep, I have a SE K790a. Same for me: I use the camera, EDGE, and the music player a LOT. Haven't had any issues with it and the UI is responsive, quick, and easy to use.

Then again, I paid $400 for it so it better be good!

cube
May 24, 2007, 01:35 PM
The battery of my Ericsson T39 that I have since 2000 died, the only place where you could find a replacement was on the internet, and I couldn't wait, so I went for a cheap quadband phone (nothing cheap 3G).

I got a RAZR V3i but it didn't have EDGE, and I wanted to try live TV, so I dropped a bit more cash and got a RIZR Z3.

The live TV sucked. I rarely talk on the cell, so I use it mostly to listen to podcasts that I sync from iTunes with SyncTunes (a 2GB microSD card was cheap).
It also has stereo bluetooth so I might go wireless with the headphones.

I am happy I returned the V3i. Its screen might be bigger, but the Z3 is more practical and it has more features.

aquajet
May 24, 2007, 02:29 PM
My first phone was a Motorola StarTAC. That's the only cell phone I actually ever liked. Since then I've had a bottom line LG and now a bottom line Samsung. The Samsung is just okay, but I hated the LG with a passion. I eventually ended up breaking it in half and smashing it to bits with a hammer after I "upgraded" to the Samsung.

leekohler
May 24, 2007, 02:48 PM
I still don't own a cell phone and hopefully never will have to. I hate them about as much as I hate TVs in bars.

sysiphus
May 25, 2007, 01:05 AM
I've got a Sony Ericsson W810i from Cingular, and love it...yes, it is a 2006 model phone. However, it does everything I need (and more!), gets great battery life, has a great camera (for a phone), plays nice with iSync, has a fast, customizable UI, etc, etc...and it was 79 dollars. Not bad. That said, I can still see the draw to some of the older Nokias that are even smaller still than my phone, are durable as all get out, and make calls just fine ;)

solvs
May 25, 2007, 01:44 AM
A ton of phones over the past few years have MP3 and video playback capabilities. The iPhone isn't the first to do it, I'd hardly call it the only great phone. Other than visual voicemail, it offers nothing that some other phone doesn't offer.
You obviously haven't seen it in person. The interface sells it. It's nothing short of amazing and well worth all the hype.

Still waiting a couple of months to get one though. :o

I still don't own a cell phone and hopefully never will have to. I hate them about as much as I hate TVs in bars.
You don't have a car, you don't have a cell phone... man I couldn't live like that.

elppa
May 26, 2007, 09:09 AM
Well my Nokia 6100 (http://www.nokia.co.uk/A4222164) has died on me.

I will try to get it repaired because it has served me well, is very slim, very light and has very good battery life and no stupid camera.

So at the moment I'm without a mobile phone and I couldn't really care to be honest.

What annoys me in the register article is people who criticise iPhone yet pricing and feature set for the European phone are a long way from being confirmed.

I do like the look of the product though, mainly because an area which has been neglected by other manufacturer's has been really well addressed — the user experience.

nplima
May 26, 2007, 09:42 AM
hi!

In all honesty, if I could find a 5110 with BT for syncing contacts with my computer, I would be satisfied.

That would be a Nokia 6310i, also from 2001 (-ish) or a Nokia 5110 with a USB cable if you're cheap :D

Both the Nokia 6310 and 6210 have some demand so many years after being discontinued because of proprietary hands-free kits on high end cars. you might end up buying a 6310 for the price of a medium range modern phone.

What I'd like to see is a device that does all things mentioned in this thread except make phone calls. Would go a long way in ridding us of Annoying Cell Phone People™.

There are some PDAs on the market at least because of people working in places where there are strict security rules about where to carry a device that can make photos. Some diplomat friends of mine have such restrictions and Nokia has business phones meant to cater to those needs. I think they're the last brand to sell medium/high end phones without camera.
Nokia E50: http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_e50-1566.php
Nokia 6021: http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_6021-1088.php

Since these devices do not help the network operators in selling higher priced services (TV on demand, MMS, videoconf, ...) there's limited subsidies compared to those all-in-one devices where you can press a fast-access key and start a WAP session (at a certain unit cost). Pure PDAs have no such incentives.