As mobile phone manufacturers, smartphones especially, pack more features and power into their handsets, it’s inevitable that some users will fall victim to the problem of having too many ill-defined options. It can be a headache trying to navigate through your mobile phone’s menus in your quest to setup email, get a new ringtone, tether your phone as a wireless modem, enable location-based servics, etc. – so much so that wireless subscribers are increasingly ignoring their handset’s features and using the cellphone as a basic phone.
A new study, in fact, highlights the disparity between cellphone manufacturers’ push to continually pack more complex feature-sets into their handsets and consumers that are increasingly left wondering how to fully explore their mobile phone.
Of the 4,000 people surveyed by Mformation throughout the US and UK, a whopping 85% indicated that they were were frustrated with complexity of setting up their mobile phone. The survey also showed that 61% of people thought it was just as hard setting up their handset as it was moving bank accounts (how moving bank accounts is at all difficult is beyond us), and 95% of respondents indicated that they’d be willing to try new services if they were easier to setup.
“There is an enormous range of things modern phones are capable of doing but the paradox is that many people are not using these capabilities,” said Mformation spokesman Matthew Bancroft.
The study is valid in that it highlights the need for more user-oriented interfaces that put a premium on intuitive controls. But, the survey fails to take into account that most people are still using feature-phones that try to offer high-end features (GPS, email, photo sharing, etc.) that are built on kludgy, menu-obsessed interfaces.
The real problem, it seems, is that many mobile phone users are stuck with handsets that feature ridiculously unintuitive interfaces. The smartphone space has seen incredibly intuitive and slick mobile platforms like the iPhone OS and Android OS quickly gaining respect on the world-stage as having the most enjoyable user experience. Sadly, development in the dumb-phone market, if you will, has been largely passed over by manufacturers looking to focus their resources on the burgeoning smartphone market.
The iPhone and T-Mobile G1 have revolutionized the way people perceive smartphones. Smartphones don’t need to be complex and difficult to navigate. The G1 only requires that you login with your Gmail credentials and you’re up and running with a full-populated Contacts list and email client. The iPhone syncs your desktop settings to your phone. It really shouldn’t be any more difficult to setup your mobile phone.
So, if menu-heavy interfaces and unintuitive controls are keeping you from realizing your handset’s true potential, perhaps it’s time to move to a smartphone platform from the likes of Google or Apple.