Questions, I Get Questions about What Phone Should I Get

Chris put up an excellent post entitled “What Will You Choose as Your Next Daily Driver?” Daily Drivers mean different things to different people and of course they should. Everyone has different use cases and budgets and, well, there’s that who feudal/serf  relationship most have with a carrier.

This past weekend at the theatre I had five different conversations with Wayside Theatre customers who are thinking of getting a new phone for themselves or a loved one for the holidays. They came up and asked me advice on what they should purchase in the next two weeks (meaning before the holidays.) As always this reporting is in no way scientific and completely anecdotal, but I do find some of the questions and thoughts telling. Maybe you will to.

Case 1. This individual wants a smartphone so he can communicate better with his daughter at college.

Case 2. This individual (as do the next two) want a keyboard. Actually let me rephrase that, without a keyboard there is no sale.

Case 3. This individual wants the latest and greatest but is afraid of Android given prior experiences. He also despises Apple. He thinks Windows Phone 7 is a joke.

Case 4. This individual wants to ditch smartphones all together and is looking for a feature phone.

Case 5. This individual is changing jobs, turning in the company Blackberry and wants something fun. She wants to do lots of photos and video.

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After talking with each individual and asking them some questions, there are several common threads running through all of the conversations.

  • They all are reluctant to change carriers.
  • They seemed to be both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the choices available.
  • With one exception (case 5) they don’t care about the latest and greatest. They just want something that is easy to use.
  • In three of the cases, they have tried touch screens and don’t care for them. They want the comfort of a keyboard.
  • By and large in these conversations cloud services don’t matter to these individuals. In three of the cases they say they don’t want email on their phones. Facebook access was only important to two of the cases.
  • The only cases where Apps mattered was in case 1 and case 5. In case 1 the individual is attracted by Apple’s Facetime advertising for communicating with this daughter. When we discussed alternatives (given that neither uses Apple hardware) he seemed interested in exploring those but was unaware that Android offered some options there. Case 5 wants to shoot photos and videos. When we got to discussing which camera was best/worst, etc… the talk of megapixels and lens systems turned them off. She wants taking photos to be quick and easy.
  • Case 4 is interesting because he wants to simply his life and feels like smartphones (he has experience with Sprint’s original EVO) is far too complicated. His needs are phone calls, some texting, and that’s about it as he lays it out.
  • Awareness of Windows Phone 7 was almost il with this very random and very unscientific sample.
  • Awareness of the many flavors and choices of Android was better but in two cases deemed extremely confusing.
  • All of the cases were in a position to upgrade a phone and get a lower price with a new two year commitment. None expressed that this was a problem for them.

If I’m drawing any conclusions from these very random conversations they are obvious ones. It’s a wild and crazy world out there if you don’t pay close attention to what’s going on in the mobile world. That makes it difficult for some customers to make choices. These folks all seem to know what they want by and large, but when I asked if they had already discussed this with store reps they each said that they didn’t care for their previous experiences in doing so. When asked if they checked out the Internet for reviews and such, they all said they did. Two found the information available to confusing. One said that it left him in a more confusing place than before he started.

With the exception of Apple, brand awareness in this group seems low. Most refer to their current phones as a Sprint or Verizon phone, not by the handset maker.

 

 

  

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I feel their pain. My wife got a top of the line phone because she wanted a phone that cost as much as my sons’ phones. Except for the odd Wikipedia/IMDB search, she could use a basic Nokia from five years ago and any modern feature phone would have met her needs. But her philosophy (mirrored by many consumers) is that if it costs more it must be better. Nowhere is there a sense “this is what I want my phone to do – what phone does this.”

    The second thing you correctly highlight is carrier lock-in. I suspect few people switch carriers for a phine (or, at least, for an xPhone as opposed to an iPhone). Plus, people can’t take their phone to a new carrier because of the plethora of incompatible standards and locked down phones. It’s enough to make you wish for the old European model where the Post Office ran the phone company.

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