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When you're a techie, it's hard not to gawk at the evolution of the smart phone and to think about the implications of a growing mobile internet.

Yet for average mobile phone users, the increasing number of features is leaving many 'baffled'.

This is according to a survey conducted by Mformation, which found that 61% of the mobile phone users it interviewed in the UK and United States were as challenged when setting up a new mobile phone as they would be moving their bank accounts.

A whopping 95% of the 4,000 people surveyed said that they'd be more likely to use more of the mobile services that are available to them if their mobile phones were easier to set up.

This highlights something that many of us techies often forget: a lot of the features and services we love aren't exactly designed well for the average user.

But they should be. If the mobile internet, for instance, is ever going to grow into the powerhouse many have been predicting for years, features and services absolutely need to function for the average user.

Design matters whether you're building a website or software for a mobile phone. Just as a poorly-designed website will inevitably lead to lost customers and lost opportunity, the same is true when it comes to the mobile phone.

Mformation found that 61% of the people it surveyed would stop using a mobile application if they couldn't get it working the way they wanted to right away. And given that many Mformation's Matthew Bancroft told the BBC that many users reported spending upwards of an hour setting up their mobile phones (when it should really only take 15 minutes), it's obvious that handset manufacturers might have a real problem on their hands, especially as the sophistication of the features they build into new phones increases.

The good news is that industry players seem to know this. The BBC reports that they're investing more in staff training and help desks and are working on developing standards that will hopefully make the user experience a bit more predictable. Additionally, the increased processing power handsets are achieving "could be used to anticipate what users were doing and help them find their way around the handset."

But while we wait for all of these things to come to fruition, the situation highlights the importance of understanding who your customers are and designing your product for them. Clearly in a rush to create more advanced mobile phones, this has been forsaken to an extent.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 January, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Chris Avore

Patricio,

You're exactly right: as phone producers continue to try differentiating themselves from one other by cramming more features into their phones, they're neglecting to confirm any feature, new or old, is usable by their consumers.

I posted the cell phone industry's promotional commercial on my blog that is somewhat humorous to see side by side the BBC article.

Check it out:

http://www.erova.com/blog/index.php/2009/01/19/ctias-perception-vs-our-reality-mobile-device-usability/

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

That's a great video Chris. I think the industry has gotten ahead of itself. It's great we can do so many things with our mobile phones these days but the features are clearly ahead of the mainstream user and if we're going to have a mainstream mobile internet, the industry can't leave the mainstream behind. It has to design for it.

over 7 years ago

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Cep Telefonu Tamir Kursu(Pda Donanım)

That's a great video.

over 7 years ago

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yunsi5156

about 7 years ago

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moremobile

That's really true! I got nokia 3220 for my mother, she doesn't care about internet or texting she just wants a phone that is easy to use and works good. here is what she had to say: Big buttons are easy to see volume gets loud. Great audio quality, excellent service, it even works in the basement, good battery life.
I am happy that I found a phone she enjoys to use. I would highly recommend this phone to anyone who wants a no frills phone that works great.

over 6 years ago

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