Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mobile saga

Few weeks ago my phone (Sony Ericsson P900 series)  of nearly 4 years started to get erratic . Though it was old and looked old - it was a brilliant phone . Easy, intuitive functions . When it finally stopped working I had to start using my alternate phone Nokia E90 which until then I was using primarily for email .For 6+ years being used to a stylus phone I found it difficult to use the E90 for sms communication. 

Anyway , finally I had to get a mobile phone to activate my mobile number of more than 10 years. After visiting several stores and internet research I zoomed in on a Sony Ericsson G900. Features seemed to be similar to my earlier phone with added features like Sudoku games and FM player . 

Am in the phase where I have yet to befriend this phone . Something akin to the Stockholm syndrome is at work . I actually like the E90 better ( for now ) and end up using that phone and number more these days . My earlier Sony Ericsson phone was a handful . In comparison the new one feels like an anorexic toy ( I suppose the design and marketing folks at Sony Ericsson would call it 'compact' ) . 

The process of the phone buying offered fascinating insights into retail establishments that stock mobile phones and phone companies . 

For instance , the CD that comes with the phone to sync it with a computer will work only on Windows based computers . No download for this model on the Sony Ericsson website for Macbook users . This kind of myopia alone will result in ensuring iPhone sales to Macintosh users whom other phone brands have decided to alienate or ignore . I strongly suspect that part of the hysteria re iPhone must have it's origins in frustrated Macintosh users who could not find phones that synced well with their beloved computer. I must confess I would have seriously considered the iPhone if it was offered by the service provider of the number I have for 10+ years . 

I was amazed by the seeming lack of ability of some of the stores to attempt converting a prospect into a customer . One of the stores which advertises that 'we help you buy' did 'help me buy' by enabling me to see various phones one store . But they 'could not sell'. When i called them a week later they could not answer some queries re the phone and did not have it in stock . No attempt to note down contact details to check if it can be procured or to offer alternative options . No initiative to offer the telephone number of their other stores to see if they had the phone in stock . With this level of ability to covert a prospect into a sale the economic situation is quite irrelevant . A sale can happen only if the customer is determined to buy . Organizations and individuals it appears take labels seriously. A help line is just a help line . They don't see it as an important avenue to generate sales.

Mobile phone is an important consumer product in most parts of the world today . In a key segment the myopia and and the lack of service represent an opportunity for companies that choose to focus on the consumer experience vis-a-vis just the product .

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