We’re all a-blaze with talk about cell phones, where I work. Although my department isn’t in the cell phone handset biz, other parts of the company are, and that part of the company impacts us all.
We’re full of bright people, with bright ideas and we want to create the killer product that will make our company the bright shining star it once was and deserves to be again.
But we’re hamstrung.
Rumors about Apple’s iPhone were abounding long before Jobs unveiled the slick new phone with the awesome interface. The phone we should have been making, and could have been making. We drooled with envy, where I work. And now the rumors are buzzing with nooooooooz about Goooogle entering the phone market.
But this Fox News analyst hit the nail on the head, when speculating about a phone coming out of this software house:
I can see the frustration even within Google: they have fabulous software ideas, but the fragmented operating systems, lousy Java implementations, hideous carrier restrictions and byzantine UIs on phones prevent users from getting to them.
Yahoo! is feeling the same rage. Heck, any Internet company worth their salt is feeling it.
Apple was definitely feeling it when they developed the iPhone, which in Apple’s mind solves the media-on-cell-phones problem.
Apple’s super-strong brand and market power let them get past the miserable conservatism of the wireless carrier oligarchs who control cell phone software.
Byzantine User Interfaces. Which are more or less forced on us by the first-line customers, the carriers who market everyone’s phones. Someone did a study, and learned that the third most popular function used on a cell phone these days is the alarm clock. Calls, text messages, and alarm clocks.
But in all the buttons and soft keys that come on your phone, where is your alarm clock function? Is it as easy to access as, say, getting to your carrier’s web site to purchase ringtones and new songs?
See, making it easy to get to the alarm clock doesn’t bring money back to the phone carrier.
I love my phone. I tolerate my carrier and their restrictive policies regarding letting me access the stuff on my phone easily via Bluetooth. I despise the user interface they insist on having on every phone they market. I can’t see the clock on the front, because they put the little bitty numbers at the bottom. I can readily see my carrier’s emblem, however.
I wish, oh how I wish that we all would get together and demand that these carriers start figuring out what we want, and make it available. If we could do what Jobs did with Cingular (now AT&T) …