Hey, mobile makers! Time to wake up or die - Part II
You’re in my blood, I just can’t quit
You give me such a kick
I hate you, like I love you
-Song from Delhi Belly (2011)
I quite liked this song I’ve mentioned when I watched the movie. Ridiculous, over the top, but got the emotion right. That’s our relationship with our phones. We love them, but we really hate them. And that bipolar emotion came gushing out as a reaction to Part 1 of my open letter. I was swamped by an outpouring of reactions and laments from all of you. Thus part 2 is literally a crowd-sourced column. This is me and you together, telling the brands to get their act together.
Snake oil. Con operation. Pure deception. That’s what they should be called instead of flash sales. Because a legitimate form of selling a device at one time has become a very elaborate marketing gimmick. Sold out in four seconds, thank you for the overwhelming response. Are you serious? You’re a huge multinational giant, you take out full-page ads and blast TV commercials, and you can’t manufacture enough phones? The flash sale style of marketing is dead as a dodo. Stop regurgitating it.
Consumers are blamed for changing their phones too often. But is it consumer vanity and greed or is there a more sinister game here? Performance, speed, battery life, scratches and nicks, broken screens – everything suffers within months. While some companies have admitted planned obsolescence, it’s a known secret in the industry that everyone does it. After all, most of you brands have a one-year cycle for new products and you need us to buy your new stuff. It’s a terrible thing you’re doing to us, the consumer and the environment
3.5mm headphone jack
Bring it back. Till all of you don’t have a single universal standard for the next digital audio connector, stop fiddling with it. We’ve spent a lot of money on headphones.
What’s the most often used phrase in a voice call? It’s “Can you hear me?” Sad that we all switch back to ancient landline technology when we have a really important call to make. Work with the network providers, add better noise cancellation and microphone tech. Make it happen. You owe us!
Covers and cases
I buy your phone because you made it so good looking. I love it! And then as soon as I buy it, I’m expected to buy a thick, fat cover to protect it? You even put a cover in the box? You’re accepting that your phone is fragile and won’t survive a two-inch fall? There is enough tech now that can make a phone virtually indestructible. I’m fine if the phone is 2mm thicker and more solid. Just make the investment and stop taking the consumer for a ride!
Put in FM radio and infrared. Don’t laugh. It costs pennies and we all still really want them.
Camera on the back
Can you make them stop protruding? They look terrible and get scratched big time. While you’re at it, can you please add an in-built lens cover? You do know that your camera lens gets about 400 micro scratches every single day, as it’s exposed at the back, don’t you?
Don’t claim your phone has wireless charging and not put the wireless charger in the box. Cars brands don’t claim they have a 5-litre engine and then not put the engine in the car. Put the charger in the box!
Most of you promised that you would invest all your extra money on R&D and innovation. Now all of you spend it on brand ambassadors and celebrity launches. Have some confidence in your own product without an actor holding it in his/her hand!
There’s more, but for the moment let’s stay with these. Read Part 1, add Part 2, and start making your phones based on what a customer really wants.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, June 24, 2018
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