At last week's Wireless Ventures 2006 conference, Eric Savitz of Barron's discussed strategies for addressing the consumer wireless market with Pieter Knook, SVP of the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division of Microsoft. Microsoft's consumer wireless strategy actually looks through a business lens:
Knook believes that the business segment has been underserved, and points to the lack of business-oriented wireless devices as evidence. Instead, device purchases made for business use are also expected to serve the buyer as a consumer. Talking to friends, sharing photos - we don't use a separate device outside of the business environment, we just keep using our business device. (I, for one, don't know many people with more than one cell phone.) Since so many of these devices are bought by us as individuals (as vs. PCs, which are issued by IT departments), they have to be functional and cool, supporting us in crossover usage scenarios.
Of the many possible adoption barriers, Knook picked these few to highlight:
Carriers don't like streaming video. Knook opined that carriers don't want to send full video streams through the carrier network, since they actually consume too much data. There are trials like vCast up and running in order to refine the technology, but it isn't yet clear what either the business model or the appropriate content model is going to be.
User experience isn't great. The biggest challenge in designing convergence devices is the user experience. Knook doesn't yet see how to combine rich functionality with a simple interface, or how to handle physical compromises such as battery life. No one likes it when watching a video means that there's no battery left to take phone calls. Japan used to have the smallest handsets in the world, but now they have the biggest - in order to support all of the new functionality, the handsets are loaded up with fat batteries, larger screens that can optimize the display of rich content, etc.
No one likes a Peeping Tom. Another strange consumer barrier
to adoption is that people don't want their subway neighbors peering
over their shoulder to watch TV. A need for at the least the perception
of privacy is one of many eccentric consumer requirements that need to
be met in order to facilitate adoption.
Tags: christine herron christine.net space jockeys venture capital vc wireless ventures microsoft wireless