It would appear that Apple, Google and Microsoft have been so intently focussed on competing to build the best phone operating system they’ve forgotten that a large proportion of the phone sales are based on the look of the phone rather than functionality. For example, take a look at a selection of the Windows Phone devices that are now available on the market. One word….. BORING….. actually a second word comes to mind….. GEEK. That’s right, the designs are boring, lack imagination and a for a predominantly technical male audience.
Now before you think that I’m having a go at Windows Phone, if you take a look at the Android devices available they’re no better (in fact most look similar to the above which is no surprise since they’re mostly by the same set of device manufacturers). Apple is slightly different in that they at least employ decent industrial designers. If you look at the iPhone 3 design (white and black) they had sex appeal to a design conscious audience, and surprise surprise it worked. They had lust appeal and your average consumer wanted one, often without knowing why.
In my mind the iPhone 4 takes a somewhat different take. Whilst not being a sexy as previous devices, the unique look at feel that Apple has created, and the return to a metal shell, appeals to a more corporate user (no surprise as Apple tackles the enterprise space, fighting RIM and Microsoft for control of the corporate users).
So, what’s missing? Well I think that there are two audiences that are being missed. Firstly the “Pink” market – 15-25 year old predominantly female market – that want a phone that has bright colours and is easily identifiably theirs. Take for example my PS3 controller….. it’s bright pink and I know it’s mine!
The second market is what I’ll call the “Accessory” market – those users who want to change the shell of their phone and hang attachments/accessories off them. Both Android and Windows Phone devices lag behind the iphone market in the number of accessories available for them (eg docking stations, speakers, protective covers, credit card sleaves). However, this is nothing compared to the Nokia market. Next time you’re in a Westfields or other large shopping centre, look out for the mobile phone accessory counter (there is sure to be one). So many accessories, mostly for the feature phones by Nokia, Motorola etc.
Whilst I think that Windows Phone 7 is an awesome platform there is no sex-appeal to the hardware. Given the number of different manufacturers making devices, I’m surprised by the complete lack of imagination…. give me a pink Windows Phone.