In the race for the perfect (best?) mobile phone, we have forgotten what a phone really is.
We started out by having a large, clunky mobile handset, and focused on downsizing it until we reached the point of absurdity. The big challenge seemed to be maintaining the basic phone features, like voice calling and texting (SMS).
Then, PDAs started popping out, and the debate shifted from “who has the smallest phone” to “who will win the day: phones or PDAs”. But PDAs are now so 2001. We now have “smartphones”. And, for some reason, the Personal Digital Assistants actually grew a bit larger, and are called “netbooks” these days. And so the debate goes on: Laptops, netbooks or smartphones. But I digress.
Next in line, we had two additional forces:
- The Blackberry, which enabled us to receive emails on our phones (by “pushing” instead of “pulling”).
- Windows Mobile, which tried (and still does) to turn our phone into our “PC away from our PC”.
And then, of course, for a bit over a year now, came the iPhone.
So now, when you choose a mobile handset, you really have to consider the feature you are most interested in, and base your handset choice accordingly. Options are probably:
- Make voice calls (talk)
- Read emails, and maybe use the internet a bit (communicate)
- Run applications, and I don’t really care if they work (run apps)
- Ultimate coolness
It is quite the common assumption that cool = iPhone. Problem is, you can’t talk and be cool at the same time. The iPhone is a great piece of electronics, but it is not a phone – with call quality issues irritating users and a non-existent physical numeric pad, it is quite hard to actually use the iPhone as a phone.
So how about going for a Windows Mobile handset, which can run you apps. Well, then you get pure mediocrity with no focus at all. Why? Because the OS is not targeted at a specific device, but is a general purpose one, which leaves too much work for ODMs.
For some reason, handset vendors weren’t able (yet) to come up with a solution (smartphone?) that CAN achieve two of the above options, and do a great job at it – they always compromise. The good news is that they are constantly improving, and so maybe one day, we will be able to choose more than just a single option as the focus for our phone. In the meantime, however, it’s a hard choice.
I, personally, will opt for talking. Being a workaholic, I prefer not having the other features at all on my mobile handset.
What is your smartphone’s focus?