Friday, December 23, 2005

Back in the USSA ... you don't know how lucky you are, boy!

Well, I've been quiet for quite a while, mainly because I was doing lots of last minute work before my trip back to the states. I've been back for a week already, and I managed to make it to a Seattle Mobile meet-n-greet, where I met some pretty savy mobile cats, that included the Seattle Mobile founders David and Mario. I've already made quite a few trips up and down the PACNW, hitting up the big malls, and having some low-key meetings with mall property managers about deploying Jellingspot. My first thought that comes to mind is that mobile has come a LONG way in the US since I first returned from Europe back in 1999 for a visit. Back that, analog phones were still all the rage ... now, it seems, most people are using GSM or some varient, where you can send SMSs (Texting, as in the UK, it's called here in the US). I've even manged to con some girls I know into "texting" me mainly (I hate phone calls generally, as they're intrusive). They're getting hooked.

However, there is still a LONG way to go. While a lot of people are wearing Bluetooth headsets, I see that Motorola still maintains a large monopoly on the phones being sold at carriers, and these phones straight suck. There is a commerical on TV or the radio every 2 seconds for the Motorola Razor, but that phone stinks. You can't do much with (from a Jellingspot, or just Java/Flash perspective) ... it's being pitched as the next best thing next to sliced bread, but man, it's a laughing stock in Europe. I briefly tested the Razor for a few days (psuedo tester for a friend), and I couldn't stand the phone. I've been lucky enough to be carrying around and testing a new HTC Wizard, and that's a real phone (although Pocket PC Windows Mobile edition is straight buggy and lacks a lot of features ... can't even Bluetooth a picture to a friend -- have to use IrDA or MMS/Email -- stupid) compared to the Razor. In fact, it's light-years ahead of anything else out there really, minus the few Nokia Series 60 phones floating around out there. Motorola must have a monopoly on the network equipment sales to the carriers, and so they're pushing their crappy phones via this blackmail method -- that sucks. :(

Whatever the case, hang in there USA -- things are getting better ... rumor has it that Nokia is gonna start aggressively pushing their products there (not sure how...) ... and Sony-Ericsson is eye-balling the US market more aggressively, too. Let's hope -- because Motorola hasn't impressed me at all thus far and the US mobile market is suffering because of it!


Bryan Rieger said...

Hey David,

Welcome back. I think you said it best in that "there is still a LONG way to go".

Bluetooth = 'headset' in North America. The Blackberry and Treos are considered lust-worthy devices, not to mention the Razor and the abysmal Rockr. In Canada two of our 3 (the other two merged) carriers are CDMA based. 3G is still coming - EDGE isn't on the radar. Data fees are out to lunch, and they want to rollout video...

Don't get me started on FlashLite! v1.1 hasn't rolled out anywhere beyond Japan in any meaningful way - and now they (Adobe) are already pushing v2 to developers. It might be a great technology, but it might was well be vapour unless they can actually get it on the devices. Long term icensing to OEMs in what amounts to basically a commodity market is assinine.

One of the main problems with the North American market is the carriers. When most people buy a phone they get whatever their carrier happens to stock. People equate Rogers, AT&T, Cingular, etc as the brands of their phones - not Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. They get these phones at a discouted cost as the carriers have generally used the devices as a loss-leader for their services (typicall locked in via device or contract). As a result, the actual brands mean very little to the average North American consumer. Most people I know talk of their phone in terms of their carrier instead of the OEM. ie: It's a Cingular phone... and historically it's been near impossible (still is) to migrate your number to another carrier, or even switch carriers because of locked devices.

The OEMs didn't have to worry about rolling out devices here, but as a result they have NO real presence in the North American market. That is going to require a HUGE investment in marketing/education to change over the coming years.

David Stennett said...


Good comments -- that's exactly what I'm seeing. Phone selection is poor, at best (probably due to cross-selling on Motorola's part -- use our crappy phones and we'll sell you the GSM/cell equipment cheaper) ... the carriers are really hurting the mobile market ... but, really, that's the N. American model. Not to mention, the vaporware, etc... the marketing machine is in full-swing. Americans just can say, "get this for this price" -- of a 1 minute radio commerical, the last 15 seconds is "disclaimer" (price varies, depends on use contracts, depends on this or that) ... it's the art of deception at its best! Not sure it's gonna change anytime soon -- even other software developers I talk to here (who do Flash, Java, etc...) are completely disappointed in the technologies here ... :(