Tag: mobile

Introducing the very aptly named HTC Sense

So the follow up to the HTC Desire is nearly upon us – the HTC Desire HD. Not very imaginatively named I know, and you could be mistaken for thinking that this was just another iterative update, but I think that this new phone actually represents a landmark in the smartphone market, a quiet changing of the guard even.

HTC have been around for a while making loads of different smartphones of consistently high quality, but they’ve never really managed to get people excited about them as a brand.

The first HTC Desire started to change all that. It was the first phone that really started to compete with and even outdo the iPhone. One of HTCs biggest problems however was one of branding. HTC isn’t a brand it’s an acronym – the High Tech Company. And each phone they brought out tried so hard to sound exciting, but just ended up sounding a bit naff – the Hero, the Magic, the Legend, Nexus One, the Desire.

None of these phones quite lived up to their names, none of them was the giant killer that they were supposed to be (even the Desire) and none of them managed to become a brand in their own right. There’s nothing that was able to compete on a brand level with “iPhone”

So what is different now?

1) The first thing that has gone right for them is that they managed to land during a lull in the Apple marketing machine and indeed when Apple did come back into the frame it was a with a bit of a mixed bag. Bias aside, the iphone 4 is a admittedlygreat bit of kit, but not without it’s highly publicised technical flaws, and the iPad, though a joy to use is always going to have the “It’s just a big iPhone” type comparison. In this context, HTC and the Desire have managed to compete on a more level PR playing field with Apple, which would just have been unheard of 18 months ago

2) They’ve stuck with the Desire name and turned it into a franchise – the Desire HD and the Desire Z both come out in the next few weeks and their respective marketing campaigns will start to generate significant recognition for the name. This might not seem significant, but when you look at all the different names they and their competitors are using, it’s probably the first non-apple phone since the Motorola RAZR to achieve such a thing.

3) They are bringing out different models for different consumers – the Desire HD is clearly aimed at the entertainment focused user, the Desire Z (with a slide out Qwerty keyboard) is aimed at the business user and frankly I’m surprised they didn’t call the Wildfire a Desire Mini to appeal to the financially challenged teen market. This enables consumers to buy into a successful franchise without having to make compromises and represents a significant departure from the iPhone way of doing things.

These are all interesting developments and important for establishing HTC as a brand, but I think the most exciting thing they’ve done is not to do with the actual phone but instead is a piece of news that I just found out about

With the launch of the two new Desire models they are also launching a website called http://www.HTCSense.com . This website, (named after the highly acclaimed “Sense” user interface that HTC have created for their windows and android phones) will provide some really compelling functionality for all users of HTC phones. Examples of this functionality include:

– The ability to make your phone ring loudly if you have lost it – even if you have it on silent.

– The ability to find your phone on Google Maps if you have lost it further afield

– The ability to post a “REWARD” message onto the screen of a lost phone for anyone who finds it

– Not just limited to finding lost phones, if you leave your phone at home, you will also be able to send and receive text messages and see any missed calls that you have

As people become more and more dependent on their phones these are all highly valuable functions and services that will really start to make the HTC brand really sticky. I assume that the services will also include an automatic syncing of their contacts with their online account.

This is HTC really planning for the long term. When consumers come to upgrade their current HTC Sense driven phones, they will be incredibly reluctant to have to leave all of those services behind and have to install them in a new device. The HTCSense.com can expect to generate a powerful sense of loyalty and stickiness that only Apple has come close to so far

This is the first time since the launch of the first iPhone that I’ve seen a mobile technology provider really start to do something different for it’s consumers. I for one really hope it works

Are location based technologies as exciting as we think they are?

Just came across this very interesting blog post – the Myth of Location from Mitch Joel in which he notes the fact that the uptake of location specific tools has not been anything like as dramatic as phenomena such as facebook and twitter and broadly speaking he puts this down to a consumer backlash against the invasion of privacy that such tools could represent (That is a simplistic summary of a very good post, so please do read the full text.

Like Mitch, I have been evangelising about the future of communications and what it could be like when you know exactly where your consumers are at all times. Like pretty much everyone in advertising, I have been excited about the idea of the ultimate in targeting, where you can speak to someone exactly when your message is relevant to them.

I also think that it is interesting that these mobile tools haven’t taken off in a mass market way yet, but I don’t agree with the Diagnosis that it is to do with consumer’s desire for privacy. I think when Mitch makes this analysis he is imposing the values of his generation upon a target group that have never really understood the meaning of the term privacy. The generation that takes up location based services and makes them huge is the generation that has lived their entire formative years with their lives on full display on Facebook. They don’t care about privacy, all they care about is generating twitter fodder. It feels very strange for our generation to observe it, but we have to accept that they are different from us.

I actually think that the lack of uptake in this technology is down to more simple prosaic effects.
1) For these services to get significant mass market uptake, you need to have a critical mass of penetration of the technology. Now whilst everyone in advertising probably has a GPS enabled iPhone or Blackberry, it is interesting to note that one of the most popular phones amongst the tween generation – the Blackberry Curve 8520 – does not have GPS capability.

2) I believe that we are just seeing the “sequel effect” in action. If you look at all the major technology phenomena that have mass market acceptance today, they all represent the 3rd, 4th or 5th generation of that particular technology.

Look at the iPod. mp3 players had been around for a few years and even MP3 “jukeboxes” as the first iPods were referred to. The iPod itself didn’t even take off until the PC compatible iPod mini came along (the 4th iteration of the iPod) and was made accessible to a much wider proportion of the population. This was 4 years after the launch of the iPod 1G and 8 years after the first mp3 player was released. The sequel effect then kicked into action as consumers who had just joined were waiting for the next iteration so as to be at the front of the adoption curve next time round

Look at Social networks. The first social network was created in 1997 – called SixDegrees. Anyone heard of it? Then there was Friendster and Myspace in 2002 and 2003 and even Facebook went public back in September 2005. When Twitter came along all it was doing was identifying an existing social tool – profile updates – and created profile updates 2.0. By the time Twitter came out young consumers (and more importantly the media) were waiting for the next big news story in social media so that they could get in there first.

I believe that applications such as Four Square merely represent the early generations of this technology and that once there is saturation of the base technology required and we have a had a few different waves of application along the way, the mass-media will start to pay attention, consumers will realise that something big is happening and before you know it we will all be trying to play catch up.

The challenge is to catch the right wave.