Feeds

How the mobile phone biz lost the plot

Will the iPhone save the mobile industry?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Opinion Nokia's recent announcement heralding the arrival of "widgets" is further proof that the entire mobile industry is a rudderless ship furiously innovating in circles.

Having lost sight of consumer sentiment years ago, all sectors of the industry seem to be clamouring to give every crackpot idea a chance in a desperate attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Nokia used to set the benchmark for everyone else, being renowned for its simple and snappy user interfaces, exceptional reliability, great battery life, and fantastic call quality.

Unsurprising to everyone else, is that these qualities are still paramount to the average consumer. That a company that got so many things right is now trying to distinguish itself with "widgets" is a telling depiction of how the mighty have fallen.

A little retrospective to the days of focused innovation may help highlight the dullness of today's "all cherry, no ice cream" offerings. Consider the Nokia 3210, probably the most successful phone of all time, and for good reason.

The 3210 is the Model T Ford of mobile phones. By 2000, the phone was cheap enough that almost anyone could afford it. Yet despite its affordability, it was packed with features not yet seen in the mass market; most of them market firsts. Among other things, it introduced internal aerials, T9 predictive text input, downloadable ringtones, downloadable operator logos and a user interface as easy to use as a doorbell.

The ubiquity of the phone combined with its downloadable ringtones, operator logos, and changeable XPressOn covers gave birth to the billion dollar "Blingtone" industry, while the sheer number of "Snake"-related thumb injuries more than proved the viability of a mobile gaming industry. While exact figures are hard to come by, it seems unlikely that any other phone to date has had a higher market share or a bigger impact.

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.

There is literally no one in this cursed industry that hasn't joined the frantic race to the bottom. Time and again, the industry has shown it is willing to sacrifice essential features on the altar of progress, fluff, and bling.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Next page: Greed and loathing

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.