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Recipe for a taxi driver

31/8/08

Taxi drivers amaze me. They are among the biggest customers of mobile companies and yet they have the crappiest phones. They rarely have full car kits which would make their life so much easier.

Yesterday I was in a cab and the driver had a Nokia 6310. An eight year old phone, it’s a phone you see around a lot and is, as Nokia will proudly tell you “The best selling business phone ever”.

This got me thinking, What makes a hit phone. What is the Stock, Aitkin and Waterman recipe for mobiles. With some phones it’s easy to see. The LG Chocolate, Motorola Razr or  Jesus Phone: all have that something special, but there is a class of mainstream phones where the volumes are stunning and the phones ordinary. Things like the 6310 or the Samsung D800 or Sony Ericsson T610. Phones whose success took their manufacturers by surprise.

Expansys HTC Touch Diamond advert


You can tell a phone has been a big hit when Chinese toy manufactures start making sweet dispensers or water pistols that look almost, but not quite the same as that model.

The most recent equivalent is the Nokia 6300, and the magic feeling you get when you first see one is the clue to the success. It’s not awe, but just a “that’s a really nice little phone, not special, but well rounded”. The recipe is just having that mix of the crucial ingredients and turning them up a notch. And spotting an emerging technology that has become mainstream. Bluetooth is a great example and was key to the success of both the 6310 and the T610.

It’s not about having the most features, the mobile TV or wifi, it’s about spotting what people are just beginning to expect and doing those well. So what’s my recipe for today? A bigger than standard screen is always good. At least 2.8in, 320 x 240. This makes web browsing sensible. The ability to browse landscape and to post to blogs, Facebook, flikr and YouTube. All this  must work out of the box and easily. It needs a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.2mpixel camera with a decent lens, A2DP and SIM access phonebook in the Bluetooth profiles. Mechanical novelty is always good. Something like the dual-slide of the N95 or the Minox mechanism of the C902. A slider is the new clam, so perhaps a dual slide. It needs to be attractive, so slim is good. Less than 10mm.

None of these are stand-out, never-been-done-before features but what matters is the mix. The taxi driver of 2015 won’t know why he as one, but he will.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column  the previous Friday by subscribing here.


Links

Watch who you are sitting next to when you start typing. I always ask fellow passengers what they do before getting my laptop out. It's a lesson the nVidia’s PR man has learnt the hard way.

Back in the late 1990s Motorola showed, but didn’t launch a phone called MAP. It had Visual Voicemail. Someone should dig out the reviews and use it as prior art defence to save Verizon from the Visual Voicemail suit. Or perhaps Motorola could sue.

Analysts take market data, state the obvious and then jump to almost, but not quite the wrong conclusion. Experts at this are ARC but Juniper runs a close second. They predict that mobile payments will be huge. This is right, but they think it will be NFC and ticketing which does it. They are wrong, still you can buy the wrong report here.

Adobe is the major software company which isn’t Microsoft, so it is no surprise that it has taken Photoshop mobile.


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