Consumers Are Not Smart Enough For Smartphones - InformationWeek

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Commentary
1/30/2008
01:33 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Consumers Are Not Smart Enough For Smartphones

You have one chance to guess what the most-returned gifts were this holiday season. If you guessed smartphones, you'd be right. A new survey from Opinion Research Corp. shows that 21% of gifted smartphones were returned to the store. The reason? Inability to understand the product setup process. Perhaps smartphones aren't ready for prime time after all.

You have one chance to guess what the most-returned gifts were this holiday season. If you guessed smartphones, you'd be right. A new survey from Opinion Research Corp. shows that 21% of gifted smartphones were returned to the store. The reason? Inability to understand the product setup process. Perhaps smartphones aren't ready for prime time after all.That's really shameful. One in five people found smartphones so difficult to set up that they gave up and returned them to the store. Hardware manufacturers, wireless network operators, and software/platform creators should be red-faced with embarrassment.

Says Kevin Wood, VP and senior technology analyst with Opinion Research, "Irreparable damage to a brand's reputation and perception of the company itself is at stake when a product is not easy to setup and use. Nearly 16% of the respondents we surveyed indicated that their poor setup experience significantly worsened their perception of the company that manufactured the product."

Did you hear that, product managers? How do you explain yourselves?

Unfortunately, the study doesn't dive into which models or platforms in particular were most returned. That sort of data would be very revealing, and even more embarrassing for the companies responsible for creating impossible-to-understand products. The study is slightly skewed in that it did not include the Apple iPhone nor BlackBerry devices from RIM in its questions. I am sure people returned those devices as well, but at what percentages we'll never know.

Some smartphones are easier to use than others, there's no doubt. But if one in five regular people can't figure them out, what does that tell us? The user experience isn't getting the job done right.

What do you think? Are smartphones cut out for daily use by your average Jane and Joe?

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