updated 09:50 am EST, Thu February 14, 2008
MWC panel on iPhone
The iPhone may be a great success, but emulating it could prove a challenge, a panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has concluded. Addressing other technology and behavioral experts, technology marketer Anup Murarka of Adobe noted that 77 percent of iPhone buyers have labeled themselves as "very satisfied" with their experience -- something he and the other panelists agreed was not attributable to carrier AT&T, but almost entirely to Apple, the phone's designer. The panel could not agree, however, on the path to Apple's achievements.
Suggestions included subliminally satisfying users' "need states," such as killing time, but focused primarily on improving interfaces, such as through Murarka's direct strategy of better design. Sarah Lipman, a co-founder and R&R director at Power2B, recommended connecting with users' "neural networks," exploiting touch and "pre-touch" input. Mike Yonker, a general manager at Texas Instruments, proposed that search functions could bring people to richer content more easily, saying this is something Apple has achieved. "The content is the core," Lipman noted, "and we have to get out of their [users'] way."
The panel also recommended that wireless carriers make changes to their plans, which typically discourage enjoyment of phones by charging users for every minute of activity. All iPhones benefit from unlimited data access. Even if carriers do not adjust the actual rates though, the panel said, they can still market them better, increasing understanding of what is possible. "Operators are putting together cost plans that people can't understand," comment Lucia Predolin, international marketing and communications director at Italy's Buongirono.