An ideal mobile phone

30.11.2006 11:18

I find the quality and design of wast majority of today's mobile phones appalling. I believe these devices are one of the best examples of wide-spread feature bloat. So, here's my idea for an ideal mobile phone (in hope someone from the industry will actually read this):

Hardware

  • A durable casing that will survive a fall or two without breaking apart.
  • Clamshell design: mobile phones are made for talking. I think the most intuitive way of answering a call is to open the flip, not searching for the right key to press (in a hurry I often happen to press the wrong key). Also with this design the positions of the microphone and earpiece allow for better voice quality.
  • Monochrome LCD display: I don't care about colorful menus or a true-color video of a sheep to say "Hello" to me when I turn it on. On the other hand I do want to be able to read the display comfortably in sunlight. Monochrome displays also consume less power.
  • No cameras, hard drives, GPS, flashing lights or other nonsense. Your making a telephone not some mixture of all of today's popular electronics.
  • Bluetooth for communication with a personal computer and other devices (like wireless headsets). Infrared is history. So are the serial and parallel ports.

Software

  • There are exactly four features to be implemented: voice calls, data calls (in combination with a Bluetooth connected computer), short messages and an address book. A calendar is also acceptable (I personally find a paper calendar superior to any electronic alternative, but many people I know use this function). I don't need games, ring tone composers, photo editors and other such stuff. Most people I know don't know (or don't want to learn) how to operate their WAP browsers and many don't know what a MMS is.
  • Don't write everything from scratch for each new phone. Have an operating system that is stable and is optimized for the limited system resources of a mobile phone. This way each release of the software will have less bugs (I have a feeling it's exactly the opposite today - each new phone seems to have more bugs). Don't use stuff like Windows CE or Linux (it's a mobile phone Jim, not a laptop)
  • Use a big, friendly font on the display. From time to time I actually read the contents of the display (I've seen a phone display tiny dark blue text on a light blue background). You can make it look good and make it usable. Ever heard of something called usability?
  • Stick to standards when communicating with other equipment. AT commands were invented for a purpose. Don't reinvent the wheel and make a Windows-only driver for it just because you're lazy and you didn't do your homework. Bluetooth implementations are notorious today for incompatibility because nobody sticks to the standard.
  • Have I mentioned reliability? Dropped connections, software lock-ups, erased address books, garbled messages, etc. are daily occurrences. Since it's happening to everyone almost nobody is complaining. The standard practice today seems to be to ship a product with half-finished software, release two or three patches for most obvious bugs during the production time and forget about it when a new model comes on the market. Spend more time writing quality software instead of adding a hundred new features.
  • Don't delete every piece of documentation and software about a model the minute after a new model comes to market. Some people buy used phones and they like to still get user's manuals and software updates from your web page even after you stop selling this particular product. Are you really that short on disk space on your web servers?

For a while I was hoping that at least Apple will fix some of these problems with their iPhone (judging by how well they designed iPods). But now more I'm reading about it, more it looks that Apples product will be just as feature-bloated as everyone else's (it will perhaps just look good on the outside).

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Ideas

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