For those of you who don’t know Michael Gartenberg, he covers the consumer electronics space (and a whole lot more, sorry if I’ve oversimplified Michael) for Jupiter. More importantly, he gets it. Lots of people in this industry are good at marketing, or good at engineering, or good at products. Not all of them get it when it comes to making outstanding products that consumers love. Read his “three laws of consumer electronics” before you go on.
I know Michael gets the chance to play with most new/unreleased phones (yes, even before me!), and I have a hunch he was recently trying out some new “music phone” and had a lousy experience. Probably one of those cases where the company pitched him on this unbelievable sound quality, “replace your iPod”, etc etc. And it didn’t. At all. And if I know Michael, it got him a little riled up. Riled up enough to write a blog post on “how to make a music phone good enough to use.”
While I agree with all his sentiments, the one that struck me the most was #1: real headphone jacks. Unless Shure or Bose starts building wireless headsets with the exact same sound quality of their current lineup, there is no way mass consumers will drop their Nanos.
I’m going to add a few thoughts of my own to his list:
- Integrated music. All my MP3s/WMAs should also be ringtones, alarms, etc.
- Simple album art. This is a “frilly” feature, but if I had a flip phone with top-panel playback control buttons and the outer LCD screen showed the album art, it would nicely round out the experience. Remember: the goal is to make a great experience, not one that is worse than the Shuffle!
- Easy USB synch. Michael mentions WMP and iTunes, I’d probably add that it should also appear to Windows as USB mass storage. Furthermore, the USB part must be standard mini-USB, not a proprietary connector (getting that, Moto?)
- Smart power management. Give me plenty of notice before I run out of juice while listening to music. Put in an option that auto-stops music playback with a certain amount of talk time left.
- Internet radio services. Whether it’s Pandora, Last.FM, Rhapsody, or anything else, since it’s pretty likely this new phone has 3G support, give it some Internet radio access as well.
The key thing about both mine and Michael’s tips is this: none of them require significant engineering work by the manufacturers. That’s right, you could make a Chocolate 2.0 without a major redesign. In the meantime, I’ll stick with the chocolate I love right now.