I was one of many mobile journalists who did not make it to CTIA this year. And while I was at first a bit disappointed, I realized in reading the various reports that there was not much innovative that was there. Even some of those who went have felt that things were underwhelming. Part of this might be due to the iPhone. It really did set the bar up there in terms of what techies and normobs (normal mobile users) expect from a new device.
This is not to say that there was nothing innovative at CTIA. But there were no devices or services that were announced that sparked the imagination like the early days of mobile use did. It may be just that we are so far into mobile use that to make something relevant in terms of innovation takes a bit longer. And that’s OK. But I do have some concerns on making sure that in the rush to adding features and services that normobs get to take part in this innovation as well.
One area that I commonly hear complaints about has almost nothing to do with the devices themselves, but with billing and services. Either services are too thin in terms of offerings, or too nit-picky in terms of how much you can or can’t do.
The recent fuss about unlimited plans is one way to handle this, but another would be lower cost plans that stop charging bit-and-penny for every little thing — and then make it plain on the monthly billing statement.
Another innovation that the mobile industry would be well advised to consider is that priceless one of designing a device that needs the minimal amount of customer service. In other words, smartphones that aren’t still in beta mode when released.
Now I’m well aware that some people are willing to pay for gadgets at the top edge of the mobile world and tweak and play with them, but when those products comes down in price, or those features come into lower-ranged devices, the usability bugs should be worked out, the documentation should be solid, and customer service professionals should be well knowledgeable of these features.
A final innovation that would be a good one to take up in light of the lackluster attention that CTIA has garnered is encouraging use among normobs by companies asking some of the louder users to talk about their products. Much like Nokia has a few programs where it engages the mobile device community, other companies might be wise to follow.
Now, I am not saying to saturate the interwebs with *compensated* chat; but carriers and manufacturers should be doing a much better job of helping experts who are willing to engage normobs who don’t know as much about their products. Not only will it make the quality of owning a device/service better, it will also increase the perception that someone is listening to users’ problems.
That being said, it would have been nice if there was a mobile unveiled at CTIA that would tell people I was unavailable, by voice, as soon as they attempted to dial my phone number. It’s hard enough getting the calls that do have relevance to my life; something that helps people figure out that I do/don’t want to talk to them before they call me would be quite nice to see.