in Innovation, Mobile Phones

Technology is there

Yesterday night I had a dinner out with a friend. He was a former research fellow at Olivetti in the shining days of that company.
Obviously we ended up talking about innovation in mobile phones and I shared some of my personal views on the subject. All these wonderful web 2.0 applications that are coming to the mobile world, Java MIDP 3.0  and all the like.

He said that it was great stuff.

After a couple of minutes he stopped me and said: “Well, these applications are cool but what about delivering a working phone to the users?”

I was astonished by the question. Did we miss something in the big picture?

At the end of the discussion I discovered that it’s true that we are adding great applications to mobile phones, but, we are also de-focusing from the mobile phone core functionalities.

Three little examples that I was told by my friend:

  • If I am syncing my phone with my personal computer the phone is well aware of the time I have to spend in a meeting. Why couldn’t the phone set a meeting profile when he knows I am in a meeting and revert back to normal profile when the meeting is over?
  • I have have my phone switched off and if someone tries to call me he will find my voice mail. When I will switch on my phone I will receive and SMS saying that someone has tried to contact me. Why do you show the phone number in the SMS and you do not do a lookup in contacts before displaying the message. (I know, I know.. some operator will send you the SMS from the number that called you).
  • You are selling phone with Skype, MSN, Yahoo, Gmail, etc. Why do I need to have several different contact list for each of these applications? I already have a contact list on my phone, it’s synced with my PC and it is what I use.

These are only two simple examples of use case that we should focus on.

I am really thinking that innovation in mobile phone should take two different approaches. The first one should focus on bringing to the phone the best of breed applications in the world. The second one should make these thing tightly integrated and inter-working.

Why do I blog this ? As my friend told me, the technology is there. You can use it to create new stuff or fix older stuff.