in Considerations

Let The Customer Choose

20071018memoryfull.jpgWhen you buy a new mobile phone you will typically spend the very next few days trying to understand how it works, what application you may use and install that set of third party applications that you think you may need  while you are hitting the road.

If I look at my mobile phone right now (Nokia E61i) I have a lot of applications installed:

  • Jaiku
  • gMail
  • Google Maps
  • Opera Mini
  • Newsgator Go
  • Shozu
  • Intellisync
  • Skype
  • Widsets
  • MSN Messenger
  • putty
  • mIRGGI

and some other minor stuff not worth mentioning.

It really seems that when you buy a new mobile phone you go through the very same process you go through when you buy a new Personal Computer. Take out all of the freebies that come with it and that you do not like, and install those applications and utilities that you need.

I think that the similarities end here.

After having installed all of these application you will need to face the problem of having these program work together. Just to make a simple example I can say that if I have my e-mail push application running together with Jaiku (my two preferred applications) I am not able to run anything else.  If I want to check my gMail account I have to shutdown something before launching the J2ME application. That’s very annoying in the long run and this is the reason why I think that saying that mobile is the new Personal Computer is not yet a reality.

I would like operators to work with mobile phones manufacturers in order to build better operating systems that will ease my mobile life. When I buy a new mobile phone I would like to go through a configuration process that will let me choose the flavor of my mobile phone.

The perfects mobile phone would:

  • allow me to make use of the idle screen according to my priorities. I would like to see there the information that probably I will need the most. In my case I would like to see incoming e-mail messages from my work account, upcoming appointments and so on.
  • allow me to take ownership of the idle screen. During the weekend I (usually) do not care about work stuff and I would like to see different things there just like news or personal e-mail message. This should happen with a simple key press and not going through an infinite navigation inside the mobile phone settings.
  • allow me to gather snack information from the Net when I need. Putting an RSS feed on the idle thing would be a very good start. In a more general sense the idea of having customizable widgets on the idle screen just as you can have on the MacBook I am using to write this post. Moreover I want my information and not the information that the operator thinks may be interesting to me. I want to be free to choose whatever widget I like and I will be probably willing to pay for this.
  • allow me to easy switch from an application to another. I can understand that the mobile does not have infinite resources, but instead of displaying a message saying “Memory full” why not help the user to launch an application asking which application he would like to close to free some memory? The mobile phone should be smart enough to understand which applications are used as snacks and which applications are going to be used intensively. Launch the snack application closing one of the background applications and when the snack application has finished its life cycle relaunch the application that was terminated.
  • allow application to talk to each other and collaborate. When I am using Skype I would like to have a unified contact list. Today I have a contact list for my phone, one for Skype and one for MSN Messenger. Why? There is no point in this. Interprocess communication was invented 20 years ago and I see no reason why it should not work with modern mobile phones.
  • take away the Java Application Launcher. I am a customer and I do not care if you have written a native application or a Java application. To me they are applications. That’s it. Just show them as all of the other applications. To me, as a customer, there should be no difference at all.
  • allow me to put Java application in the background. (Sony Ericsson Mobile is great at this)
  • allow me to get rid of all of these Java warnings about application security. I know that it’s the standard but it really makes the whole things unusable. Moreover it may give false informations to the customer. (e.g. If have subscribed a flat data rate plan there is no point in saying to the customer that the application will consume data that may have a cost). The best solution would be to add a layer to the Java application that will ask to the operator billing system if I am going to pay for that data or not. That should be quite simple.

As you can see it is a long list but it is something that I think we definitely need to make the life of our customer easier than today.

At the end of the day the whole thing is to let the customer be free to have the mobile phone he wants and not what we (operators) think he would want.

Why do I blog this ? There are lot of things that we can make to help our customers. I think that it is time to start thinking about this.