Smart phones defeating users and the support isn't much help

Just like the early days of PCs then...
Written by Ron Coates, Contributor on

Just like the early days of PCs then...

Even sophisticated users are having difficulties setting up and using their smart phones and operators' helplines aren't that helpful, according to focus group results from mobile software specialist Intuwave.

Richard Seward of Intuwave said: "The key faults are that the main functions - GPRS, MMS and email - aren't working properly in the out-of-the-box handsets and that the operators' customer support is cumbersome at best and not necessarily much help."

Robin Duke-Woolley, director of technology consultant E-principles, agrees: "There's a culture shock – a lot of new features and it's not too obvious how to access them.

"It's like the early days of PCs, a fun thing to have and early users enjoyed setting them up and knew how to use them – but lots of people don't have the time or inclination to go through the documentation."

They may be hard to use but they're flying off the shelves - earlier this year researcher Canalys reported that two million smart phones were sold in the last quarter of last year, double the number of PDAs.

And very few of them have been integrated into full use in the business sense - of people using them for emails, web browsing, getting data from the office computers and so on, according to Jessica Figueras, Ovum's practice leader for telecoms and IT.

"Most use them as I do, for making calls, keeping my diary, some text messages – but not much emails or using it as a company tool. We did a survey early this year and were astounded at how few were being used in the enterprise," she said.

"Very few companies have a strategy – I think that the IT managers are just closing their eyes to all the smartphones out there. And it is certain that some operators are having difficulty stretching their customer support to cover smart phones."

Andrew Yuille, marketing director of an IT company and part of a focus group, would agree. When he hit a problem the customer support person said that he'd have to email a technical support department. That then relayed instructions back through customer support in a process that took days. It eventually took a month to resolve his problem.

Figueras believes that the operators will have to become more proactive to make sure that the phones are properly set up before they are sold, as does Duke-Wooley and, of course, Intuwave.

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