Happy New Year! It's time once again for industry analysts to come out in droves. Each one offers a slightly different perspective on the hot trends for 2004. With so much speculation in the air, my staff and I have chosen not to further pollute the airways. Rather, I'd like to offer you a cautionary tale.
This past month, my husband and I decided to purchase new cell phones. Knowing quite a bit about the wireless industry and wireless technology in general, I assumed that this would be an easy task. To make things even easier, we opted to stay with our same carrier—AT&T Wireless.
First, I searched the web to see what phones were supported by my carrier. Then I headed to my local retail store. I wish I could tell you that I had a great experience. More importantly, I'd like to say that I now agree with the many analysts who say that the cellular market is poised for tremendous growth. Unfortunately, I can't.
During my outing, I was confronted with a great deal of confusion. This confusion was on the part of the retail-store clerks as well as the marketing materials for the various phones. I found numerous inconsistencies in information from the Internet, the store, and even the cell-phone manufacturers themselves. My initial trip became one long, drawn-out process. It turned into four additional trips to my local AT&T Wireless store.
What was the end result? We decided to keep our existing Nokia phones. Mine doesn't have a small form factor, sport a color display, or boast a hip color package. It offers no picture-taking capability and is not web-enabled. Yet it does what's most important: It lets me send and receive calls.
If I—a relatively well-educated wireless-industry person—can walk away with such a result, how in the world is the average Joe or Jane supposed to fare any better? Will such a customer walk away in frustration like I did? Or, will he or she be willing to plunk down hard-earned cash to dive head-first into the quagmire of cellular confusion? Most analysts think that consumers will take that plunge. I'm not so sure.
These days, the cellular marketplace does have a lot to offer. But if it can't get that message across in an easy-to-understand manner, will it make a difference? This shouldn't be rocket science! I wonder when those analysts last tried to purchase a cell phone.
I'd like to know what you think of this matter. Send me your thoughts at [email protected]. While you're at it, check out our new web site at www.wsdmag.com.