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The Socially Engineered Mobile Device

TelecomTV reports that it is no longer enough for manufacturers to produce mobile devices that they 'think' users want, based on the expensive innovative technology that they have developed. The lifestyle of the user must also be considered � as the phone has become an essential part of all of our lives.

You can view the online video of the 26-minute panel discussion here, and I recommend it highly to anyone involved in managing the design of consumer electronics devices.

That said, on a positive note, I believe that it's a good thing that we're finally having these kind of discussions about the complex mobile phone consumer experience -- because it demonstrates that we've collectively moved beyond the denial, and now we finally recognize that we have a problem that must be addressed.

However, I also believe that we still have much work to do, since it's very apparent (i.e. based upon the comments from these panelists) that few people in the telecom space really understand mainstream consumer needs, and how to remove usability roadblocks to enable improved device and service related adoption.

Furthermore, this isn't just an issue for mobile phone providers, it's equally challenging for broadband service providers that deliver value-added services to a consumer's home. IMHO, they all have the same dilemma in common -- they know that they are technology driven, and they know it's clearly the wrong design model; regardless, they have no plan to solve the apparent disconnect, and they are unable to clearly articulate how they will become more consumer-centric.

When ethnographic research actually becomes an integrated part of the provider's product and service planning lifecycle, then we'll be making substantive progress. Until then, I fear that this will be a very frustrating dialogue that lacks a meaningful and actionable conclusion. The promise of simplicity, by design, requires more than mere good intentions -- it requires a deep understanding of consumer needs, and the ability to clearly articulate product applications with clarity and imagination.

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