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Mobile Phone Users Struggle With Hardware Adoption

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the use-it-or-lose-it dept.

Hardware 386

Ian Lamont writes "A Google executive speaking at the Emerging Technology conference has described a problem that mobile phone carriers and manufacturers have been struggling with over the last few years: Users aren't taking advantage of many phones' hardware-based features. Rich Miner, Google's group manager of mobile platforms, stated that 80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on the model. Miner listed several reasons for this state of affairs, including bad UIs and small screens, but added that the participation of companies with software expertise — including Google — would help increase usage of such features."

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Join the Free world (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | about 6 years ago | (#25144403)

It's obvious what we need: something that gives you the freedom you need, on an open platform, with full open hardware and free software, all the way down the stack, so that users can get the features they want, and innovative developers can create interfaces that let people take full advantage of them in the most intuitive and obvious way possible. The GNUPhone. Operated from the command line. [today.com]

People don't care (5, Insightful)

Twigmon (1095941) | about 6 years ago | (#25144615)

The average consumer is not interested in learning how to user another device. They don't have the time or interest. I use my phone for all sorts of things: creating maps, navigation, photos, music player. A lot of the things I do with my phone are seen almost as science fiction by people like my parents.

The thing is though - if my parents were to spend the time to learn how to use all of their phone's features - it probably wouldn't improve their quality of life at all.

I can't see how more than 50% of the population would ever be bothered enough to learn how to use all of their phone's features even if they were dirt simple to use. It's just one of the facts of life that us geeks need to be willing to accept.

Re:People don't care (1)

kohaku (797652) | about 6 years ago | (#25144721)

I would advise reading the content at the GP's link. I believe he was satirising the technical community rather than actually taking that stance. Regardless, your argument is true; I would wager than many people simply don't need these features enough to learn to use them.

Re:People don't care (4, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 6 years ago | (#25144789)

I don't know about that, the real problem is that it's difficult to get a decent phone without a lot of extraneous features. I didn't want most of the features my phone came with, but there weren't really any decent choices which didn't have them.

I don't need or want a camera, mp3 player, date book/calendar or java interface is my phone, and I wouldn't have gotten a phone which had most of those features if not for the extremely limited options without.

But in a sense worse is that the camera, mp3 player and calendar are included but at least with motorola you're stuck paying for additional software if you actually want them to be at all useful.

Re:Join the Free world (1)

Otter (3800) | about 6 years ago | (#25144745)

The funny thing is that your link:

The phone will also serve as a versatile personal media player. "I can play any .au file or H.120 video with a single shell command! The iPod could never measure up to this powerful ease of use." Video is rendered into ASCII art with aalib. "If blocky ASCII teletype softcore pinups were good enough for 1970s minicomputer operators, they're good enough for you. Respect your elders."

isn't that much sillier than the article's comment:

The Google Android will compete with the iPhone, with open-source apps. OGG multimedia support, will be built-in, and sites like OGGTV will provide OGG/THEORA mobile content. The hardware will improve with time, and have better processing and memory.

Open source changes **nothing** (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | about 6 years ago | (#25144763)

Users don't want features. They want benefits.

They don't care whether these are free and open source or not - all they care about is getting what they want, at a reasonable price.

Taking the camera example, many people don't want to use a crappy (as many phone cameras are) phone camera to take a picture and then download it via a USB cable into their computer, or screw around with SD cards etc. Give them an end-to-end solution where they snap their pic and it automagically ends up in Picassa/whatever. That would make them happy so long as the cost of doing so is a few cents per picture.

Re:Open source changes **nothing** (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about 6 years ago | (#25145245)

many people don't want to use a crappy (as many phone cameras are) phone camera to take a picture and then download it via a USB cable into their computer,

You are absolutely correct. In addition, many people don't want to find a cable that would transfer this data (I bought my phone specifically because it has a proper mini-USB port, but not all do) and many people don't want to pay $20-$40 for a software that lets you talk to your phone, because it would *not* show up as a USB device...

All I want is a damn headphone jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144409)

Seriously... if you want me to listen to music on your phone, GIVE ME THE STUPID JACK. A dongle to fit the USB port is not the same thing.

Re:All I want is a damn headphone jack (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 6 years ago | (#25144455)

Mobile Phone Users Struggle With Hardware Adoption

..."Users aren't taking advantage of many phones' hardware-based features."

Hmm...struggling? Maybe some folks use phones to, you know, just make calls (and occasionally use the camera). When most people buy cell phones, they do it because the features are already tacked on to almost every phone at the dealer and since the phones come free(as part of a contract), the extra costs of the unused features are ignored. The simpler phones on the market are sought after by old or disabled folks because of the button size and the readability of the display, not because of all the extra crap(or lack thereof).

It's smartphone makers' job to sell fancy-ass phones. Of course they're going to spin it as saying people are "ignorant".

Re:All I want is a damn headphone jack (1)

name*censored* (884880) | about 6 years ago | (#25144585)

I've never understood this problem with over-featured phones. Where I'm from (Australia), old/simple phones (Nokia 33xx series are still retailing afaik) are easily available from both telecom retail outlets and supermarkets/department stores - they come in both prepaid and plan-style plans. Do American stores not take advantage of this clearly existent market?

Re:All I want is a damn headphone jack (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 6 years ago | (#25144695)

It's easier to stamp out one PCB and disable features/firmware accordingly than it is to stamp out 5 PCB's of varying complexity.

Connectivity (2, Informative)

sdemjanenko (1296903) | about 6 years ago | (#25144423)

So many of these phone can connect to the inet, but give me a nice sd card and regular headphone jack anyday. That why I keep my palm over an iphone.

Re:Connectivity (1, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 years ago | (#25144703)

um the iphone 3g has a regular jack, the sd card isn't needed because as soon as you plug your ihpone into your mac it automatically downloads every new image from the camera into iphoto.

also sd cards have a nasty habit of getting lost or broken at least with me. I need something that doesn't bend in half easily.

All that said I don't use the camera on my iphone not because I can't use but it sucks compared to my 5 megapixel digital camera with sd cards(that I have lost 2 of). The simple fact is I use my iphone as a phone, and mobile internet device. if I wanted a digital camera I would have bought a pocket sized sony model with real lenses.

Re:Connectivity (2, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 6 years ago | (#25144793)

iPhone's camera is pathetic for a company that's whole "reason for being" is media creation. And what's with the lack of good video? The new blackberry phones have pretty good 3 MP cameras that are decent for "snap and go", and they take video and have SD card slots. For taking lots of pictures or video you really need removable media. It means you have as much storage as you want to buy, and because SD chips go up to 32GB now, that's a lot of extra space compared to iPhone.

Re:Connectivity (1)

sdemjanenko (1296903) | about 6 years ago | (#25145007)

I agree that most cell's have terrible camera's, i think the best i have seen is 3.2 MP. As for the SD cards. They are a great way to transfer data between all your mobile devices. For example, if you want your pics on an asus eee or palm, or if you want to look at the photos you just took with your camera on a iphone-sized screen.

Re:Connectivity (4, Insightful)

ekgringo (693136) | about 6 years ago | (#25145057)

All the megapixels in the world won't help taking clear pictures when all you have is a fingernail-sized lens with only digital zoom.

Cell phone companies to blame? (5, Insightful)

modemboy (233342) | about 6 years ago | (#25144435)

Or perhaps it might also involve the locking down of phones by carriers?
If you can't use bluetooth for file transfer because the carrier locked it out, it makes it harder to get pics off. If you can't use the phone as a usb mass storage device because the carrier is worried about you copying ringtones yourself, obviously getting the pics off will be hard.

That said, this "article" contains almost no useful information, so maybe Righ Miner had some better examples than the pictures...

Re:Cell phone companies to blame? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144517)

Amen! The fact that AT&T charges more for an unlimited data plan than I currently pay to browse the web at home on a real computer is also a joke. And then AT&T expects me to pay even MORE if I want to use my phone as a Bluetooth modem? What, do I get a higher data rate if I surf that way instead of on the phone alone? It's all a big scam just ripe for an upstart company to come in and undercut all of them.

Re:Cell phone companies to blame? (3, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 6 years ago | (#25144575)

Or perhaps it might also involve the locking down of phones by carriers?

I came here to say that, but that really isn't the end of the problem.

How many people do you know who RTFM?
Or even bother to check out the nooks and crannies of their phone?
(For some reason, the "settings" icon is always on the bottom right)

After a minute or two, I usually know more about the features of someone's phone than they do.

Re:Cell phone companies to blame? (3, Insightful)

blantonl (784786) | about 6 years ago | (#25144917)

How many people do you know who RTFM?

Have you ever tried to read a manual for any cell phone? It is usually 200+ pages, in 5 different languages. With wire diagrams, keys to press, page after page.

Frankly, there is no need for an instruction manual. If a user cannot pickup the device and begin to use 80% of the features within a few days, then the user interface, the device, and the concept, is broken.

Lindsay

Re:Cell phone companies to blame? (2, Informative)

mcsqueak (1043736) | about 6 years ago | (#25144707)

obviously getting the pics off will be hard.

Weird file formats are also an issue. I have a Samsung slider phone (T-809 I think) with T-Mobile, and it's pretty easy to use, actually... but movies recorded with the onboard camera are stored in some sort of weird file format, that I guess I have to run through Samsung's software to decode if I want to watch them on my PC. Thanks but no thanks. I even tried simply renaming the extension, but that didn't work either.

The funny thing is, by simply renaming a .mp3 into a .m4u (or something like that) I was able to use mp3 song snippets as ringtones. :)

Re:Cell phone companies to blame? (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | about 6 years ago | (#25144711)

My guess is that this article is just flat-out wrong. I know when I plug my iPhone into my Mac it backs it up, syncs all my contacts, music, and apps, and shows me a preview of all the photos on the phone and asks me if I want to download them in iPhoto. My guess is more than 50% of folks know how to click the "Import" button. It's true that most iPhone users are Windows users, but even there it's pretty easy to sync.

I think Google has selective attention that completely excludes the iPhone right now.

Re:Cell phone companies to blame? (3, Informative)

sttlmark (737942) | about 6 years ago | (#25144841)

Mod parent up. I have a nice, feature rich BlackBerry, but the Verizon crippled the coolest features: Bluetooth will only communicate with a wireless headset, and the GPS is disabled until you fork over an additional $10/month (even 3rd party apps like Google Maps can't use the GPS until you pay Verizon).

Evidently Verizon is notorious for this kind of thing, but I didn't do my homework before buying the phone.

US cell phone users maybe. (3, Insightful)

Vandil X (636030) | about 6 years ago | (#25144913)

The International market has superior,interchangeable-carrier phones, open plans, and phones that aren't locked down or restricted in any non-fair use way. And they have case law to keep things fair.

For some US customers, pressing a button can result in opening an Internet application that charges a terrible data rate or something else that's both costly and unintentional. So some US users opt to just not try to poke around much beyond phone functionality and camera use.

What happened to just a plain old phone? (4, Insightful)

jshackney (99735) | about 6 years ago | (#25144439)

Actually, I just want a phone. Not a friggin' handheld multimedia device.

good for you (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144511)

so why are you here ? why are you reading about devices that you are not interested in ?

move to the side grandad, cos the rest of the world is moving past

Re:good for you (4, Insightful)

phanboy_iv (1006659) | about 6 years ago | (#25144747)

I thought that the point of the article is that they aren't? Anyway, I'm 21, and I really wish I could just get a plain old phone with cheap service. If I want to listen to MP3's I'd rather use something with without mediocre sound quality that's not tied irrevocably to some dubious music service. If I want to take a picture, I'd rather use a real camera than those useless toys they put on cellphones.

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (4, Insightful)

icydog (923695) | about 6 years ago | (#25144535)

That's great. Then buy one of the 20% of phones without a camera and quit whining like a grumpy old lawn patrol. It's not like there aren't choices available for you.

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (2, Insightful)

knarfling (735361) | about 6 years ago | (#25144783)

Not always an option.

For example. I want a cell phone with a speaker because sometimes my wife and I want to hear and contribute to the conversation at the same time. (Usually it is to my extended family, but sometimes to friends.) Plus, I wanted one that would receive text messages (pages from work) that I could look at without opening the phone and jumping through hoops to shut the beeper off. However, when looking at phones, only a few have speakers. In order to get one with a decent battery and a speaker, I had to accept one with a camera (which I don't really need, but I have used it once or twice) and an MP3 player.
Now why would I want the MP3 player as part of my phone? In order to use it, I have to pay extra for the connection package which includes a proprietary cable and bloatware. I don't really listen to all that much music, and I really don't want a phone that is a music player. But in order to get the features I do want, I had to settle for some extras that I don't care about and never use.

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (3, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25145137)

this banal argument crops up in _every_ single /. article about cellphones.

and the answer is the same every single time. as icydog and countless others have replied, there are tons of cheap phones with minimal features.

the only reason camera phones are so visible and common is because they're popular with consumers. it's useful having a camera on your person at all times, and most people don't need a $3000 DSLR for their uses. with point and shoot cameras becoming smaller and cheaper, it's simply more convenient to incorporate this feature into a device that people carry with them most of the time, such as a cellphone.

if you work somewhere where camera-phones aren't allowed (like a court house) then just select a phone without a camera. how hard is that? certain handset makers, such as Nokia, even have models that have a no-camera option. this CNET article [cnet.com] even compares 5 popular big brand phones that are camera-free (or have the option of being so). so stop complaining.

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (3, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 6 years ago | (#25144545)

Exactly. Maybe they should have also asked how many people even gave a rip if their phone HAD a camera? The pictures from cell phones SUCK. Mine obviously has one and I never use it unless I've got nothing else and I MUST have a picture (did that once for a car accident).

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (3, Informative)

tglx (664015) | about 6 years ago | (#25144571)

There are still real phones. Just google for Motorola F3. It's a real phone w/o any multimedia crap. The only extra is an alarm clock which I consider to be useful. And it has a display which I can read w/o my glasses.

There is another goodie: the battery life time is enormous simply because it does not have that extra useless crap

tglx

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144903)

The F3 is great, I have two. That said, it could be much better.

The screen is just fantastically readable, but it should be dot-matrix and have a resolution which can show more than 6 digits per line (Stick with e-paper though.)

The backlight shouldn't come on when a key is pressed while the keyboard is locked. The current behavior is a battery drain, especially because the 4-way button sticks out.

Vibrate should be an option for lower ring volumes too.

The battery indicator is not very linear.

I don't care much about SMS, but if the screen is improved, T9 for SMS should definitely be on the list too.

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about 6 years ago | (#25144661)

Yep ...

Sure it's got a camera ... with a small CCD that has tons of noise who cares what the pixels are, the images generally are lackluster when compared to 'real' cameras. Great for taking a picture in a pinch when you need to document something, but in general not worth sharing. And for the most part they are a pain in the ass to use. Although my Razr phone can use the camera without even opening it, my wife's Samsung piece of shit she has never used because it takes to long to enable the camera. It's also a pain to get the photos off, emailing them takes forever. I have to turn the bluetooth on or plug in the USB adapter. Rather just pop a card out and pop it into the computer. Except on most phones you have to jack open the case. And some of the lenses used to be indented and were a pain in the ass to clean. (I bought the Motorola software, mostly so I can create my own ringtones and backup my phone lists.)

Browsers?? Screen is too friggen small ... even my daughter's iPhone.

MP3 player?? Can't use a regular headset, have to carry around adapters that are small and easily lost.

GPS?? Again .. too small for old eyes to use when driving, and it sucks the battery power too fast.

All I want is a goddamn phone with some minimal IM/email capabilities. My next phone I'm going cheap on just for that reason.

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144819)

I agree if they would concentrate on making the phones good and have them not drop calls all of the time instead of adding all of these features that I don't need I would be really happy. I use my phone for 3 things, making phone calls, a phone directory, and a clock. That's it ... done. If I want to take pictures I'll use my camera not the lame one in my cell phone.

On the other hand I might use the navigation on the iPhone or Android as long as I don't have to pay for it every month. I don't see why I have to subscribe to have it on my phone when I can go and buy a magellan and never have to pay again. The phone companies are just greedy.

Get a Jitterbug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25145019)

Get a Jitterbug. It's just a no frills phone. Cheap. And is even easier to read the display and dial pad.

Re:What happened to just a plain old phone? (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | about 6 years ago | (#25145129)

Yes, and you can have one, just google consumer cellular.

I'd use my camera phone if (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144461)

I could get the pictures off of it without having to chew up my data plan limits! Damn rip-off!

Re:I'd use my camera phone if (2, Insightful)

Nkwe (604125) | about 6 years ago | (#25144951)

I would use my camera phone if it took decent pictures. I don't care how many megapixels the device has, just give me a decent lens.

Show me the data. (1)

Craboe (1120949) | about 6 years ago | (#25144495)

Show me your data the blog talks about a range of 10-50 can't get images off camera phones. First off that is a very big range. How was the data for those figures collected? Was it by measuring how many people sent pics to others using their phones with mms? If so maybe cost has something to do with it. Any time I see statistics my eyes roll especially when the questions used to gather the data aren't included. Base on that one blog I call shenanigans.

Re:Show me the data. (1)

Vancorps (746090) | about 6 years ago | (#25144625)

Honestly if you've ever used one of the basic phones with a basic camera you realize very quickly why people don't know how to get the images off because the carriers make it difficult.

With my smart phone I just email the photo, it's easy, but with my personal phone which is a samsung slider your only option is MMS which of course costs extra.

Of course my particular phone also has micro-SD so I can do it that way without a problem. The other issue is that the camera sucks and the pictures are almost useless.

Re:Show me the data. (1)

Craboe (1120949) | about 6 years ago | (#25144689)

I'm not really questioning the results but he methodology. If your gonna state things as facts give supporting data. As to my personal experience with phones I aggre the cammera quality is low, I have no issues getting images off but then, I don't live in the states and phones here are always unlocked. And the expenses issue is a big one what carriers charge for SMS and MMS is obscene.

Motophones (1)

E. T. Moonshade (591333) | about 6 years ago | (#25144499)

-piss me off. You can't connect it up as a plain ol' USB device to get the photos onto it. Nope, you've gotta pay another $35 to use Motorola's software to put something on or take something off the phone. On top of that, the software is badly written. Geek that I am, I had trouble figuring out how to even use it. There's programs out there that work, but they're even more arcane.

Give me a phone I can plug in as a good ol' removable disk, and I'll bet more people would use the camera/mp3/whatever.

Re:Motophones (1)

myz24 (256948) | about 6 years ago | (#25144627)

BitPim probably sucks as much but doesn't cost a thing

Re:Motophones (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 years ago | (#25144909)

There's a good reason why Motorola is going bankrupt.

Re:Motophones (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 6 years ago | (#25144959)

I'm sitting here with a Nokia 6300 that worked out-of-the box as a mass storage drive with no extra features.. it might have had to get a driver from windows update but that's it. Also syncs with bluetooth ... for free. It will even act act as a USB modem but my phone account doesn't have that.. but it's disabled at the phone company, not my hardware! What a concept.

It has music playing but I'm an iPod person so I got the Touch instead. The pictures are pretty good at 2 MP, good enough for viewing on a screen or web site.

Camera phones (3, Interesting)

Mononoke (88668) | about 6 years ago | (#25144503)

Rich Miner, Google's group manager of mobile platforms, stated that 80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on the model. Miner listed several reasons for this state of affairs, including bad UIs and small screens...

How about the fact that cameras are added to phones as an afterthought, and they'll always suck because they cannot have useful lenses.

Re:Camera phones (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 6 years ago | (#25144811)

i know phone cameras are kind of an 'after thought' but people bring their phones everywhere! who brings a digital SLR with a bag full of lenses depending on if you want mega zoom or normal point and shoot?

there are times you get really nice pictures or video clips with a phone built in camera that you'd never get with a digital camera because you didn't have it with you, or even if you carried it around everywhere the batteries died on you without you knowing it...

that's why i'd like to see phone cameras get up to the 3-4 megapixel range and support micro SD slots. there are a few phones with micro SD slots, and on the internet a 1GB micro SD card with a standard sd slot converter runs around $7-10 shipped.

when i get my next digital camera i'm getting a sd micro card (2gb) for it, because i assume that the smaller electronics use less power. that is usually the case, and the only way i'll know they're using the smaller die chips is if they're physically restricted to them.

my current phone only has a 'VGA' resolution camera, but i did get the usb cable for both charging and removing the pictures. my old camera broke, and i was having battery problems with it anyways, so for a while my only camera that works fine is my phones.

Carriers listen up! (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 6 years ago | (#25144505)

Carriers listen up! What this means is 50-90% of your paying customers don't care about this "free after 2 year contract" camera phonethat does everything from (mobile intarweb, SMS, MMS, musictones, and roadside assistance).

No, these are crap features that I will NEVER be used by 50-90% of your subscriber base because:
1. The general public that is over 31.4 years of age doesn't care about such frivolous crap.
2. You charge way too much for these services.

Just stop it and go back to being the phone company interested in selling me a phone call without all these additional "fees".

Thank you,
Grump

You know why I don't use the camera on my phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144521)

Because it takes crappy pictures. Just make me a phone that works well, and make it small. When I want a PDA, I'll shop for a PDA.

I want the phones they used in Minority Report. Yes, I realize it's essentially a bluetooth headset, but I'd like that to be the entire phone.

Re:You know why I don't use the camera on my phone (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 6 years ago | (#25144977)

Wait for a Connexeus .. from Ex Machina... it's way better... and open source!!

Who needs a camera on their cell phone? (1)

devon_halley (443986) | about 6 years ago | (#25144523)

Some of us (most of us?) aren't using that crap because we don't know how... it's because we don't want to.

Just give me a phone that's a phone, preferably one that doesn't look and feel like it was made by Fisher Price. I have a camera, it works fine on it's own. I have an iPod, I don't need a phone that plays MP3s. I sit in front of a computer 12 hours a day, I don't need internet on my phone.

Users struggle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144533)

I don't use the camera for two reasons:

1. I have a 10 megapixel Nikon for photography.
2. The camera on the phone is really slow, and crappy.

My phone also has a lot of onboard memory, and I have a couple of 2 gig memory sticks that would fit... but I don't use the music or movie funtions either.... for the same reason I don't record audio with the phone. Specifically, my carrier (Alltel) has some screwball software that won't let me use images or audio I record or load into the phone for ringtones... unless I pay them some god-aweful amount of money to load it onto the phone using their web access.

Most of the reason people don't use features on their phones is that the features are either crappy to start with, or crippled by the carrier to gouge even more cash out of us.

And some of it is just dumb people.

I don't get it... (5, Insightful)

ivandavidoff (969036) | about 6 years ago | (#25144541)

"Google's Rich Miner has identified one of the biggest problems facing mobile phone carriers, manufacturers, and developers: The hardware on the current generation of phones is not being used by many customers."

Why is this a problem? Isn't this like fretting that 60% of Dodge Caravan owners don't use the rear-seat cup holders? Maybe people just don't want to take pictures with their phones.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Myrv (305480) | about 6 years ago | (#25144767)

I guessing it's a "problem" because the carriers don't get to charge their transfer tax if you don't have any pictures/soundbites/songs/whatever to transfer.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

twostar (675002) | about 6 years ago | (#25144865)

It's a problem because they're paying for those extra's to the phone manufacturer. So instead of subsidizing a $100 phone they could be subsidizing a $50 and still get the same monthly rate out of the customer. Customer gets a phone without all these extra's that aren't used and the company saves some money.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144991)

"Google's Rich Miner has identified one of the biggest problems facing mobile phone carriers, manufacturers, and developers: The hardware on the current generation of phones is not being used by many customers."

Why is this a problem? Isn't this like fretting that 60% of Dodge Caravan owners don't use the rear-seat cup holders? Maybe people just don't want to take pictures with their phones.

It's a problem because Rich needed to talk about something and this was the best he could do.

Executives everywhere are always yammering on about things of little consequence, this is what they're expected to do.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

sdemjanenko (1296903) | about 6 years ago | (#25145027)

I guess another side of it is that you build a device with capability to allow for future software. However, at the rate that people go through phones it does seem kinda pointless.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

mpoulton (689851) | about 6 years ago | (#25145067)

"Google's Rich Miner has identified one of the biggest problems facing mobile phone carriers, manufacturers, and developers: The hardware on the current generation of phones is not being used by many customers."

Why is this a problem? Isn't this like fretting that 60% of Dodge Caravan owners don't use the rear-seat cup holders? Maybe people just don't want to take pictures with their phones.

Why is this a problem? Isn't this like fretting that 60% of Dodge Caravan owners don't use the rear-seat cup holders?

If the rear-seat cup holders accounted for a substantial percentage of the Caravan's cost and design complexity, then that would be a problem, indeed.

Headline is very wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144551)

Should be something like:

Cell phone companies struggle to market hardware that nobody wants.

Re:Headline is very wrong... (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 6 years ago | (#25144925)

Should be something like:

Cell phone companies struggle to market hardware that nobody wants.

Or how about "Google Claims that Software Like Android is Important?"

iPhone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144555)

I use everything on my iPhone - because it's easy and fun.

Proprietary transfers are an issue (2, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | about 6 years ago | (#25144559)

The phone should be able to store the photos and transfer them directly (for example a USB port plugging into a home computer just like a regular camera does). Transferring them immediately should be an option, of course. But wise people would do that only when they need to (urgency of sending the photo, or they have filled up their flash memory and need more space back).

FYI, I've yet to take even one photo with my phone. I use a digital SLR for photos.

Re:Proprietary transfers are an issue (1)

twilightzero (244291) | about 6 years ago | (#25144795)

Exactly what I was gonna say (but you beat me to it). $65 cables just to transfer to my PC? No thanks! And picture mail at $$$$/apiece? What's the point? I would actually like it if I had a phone with a decent camera that I could transfer via USB, but the cell companies see the extras as a profit center so they lock down everything and charge for it. Sad...

Re:Proprietary transfers are an issue (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 6 years ago | (#25145185)

Exactly what I was gonna say (but you beat me to it). $65 cables just to transfer to my PC? No thanks! And picture mail at $$$$/apiece? What's the point? I would actually like it if I had a phone with a decent camera that I could transfer via USB, but the cell companies see the extras as a profit center so they lock down everything and charge for it. Sad...

And this is why we need some kind of intervention. If you were a business CEO and had a (mostly) captive market, you'd see the gleaming $$$$ and do the same lock down to drive more profits to your business. The intervention options vary from the extreme of outlawing this, to the simpler and more desirable increase of competition. I prefer the latter solution (more competition) because it leaves things more flexible for everyone, while providing the incentive to do things consumers want. Some smaller competitor would try to get a bigger share by offering phones that include free ways to transfer to your own computer using standardized USB cable, or an extra memory card slot for something like a micro-SD card.

Another intervention I would support is a requirement that all phone manufacturers must make all phone models available on a full-price totally-unlocked basis through the retailers willing to sell that way. There obviously are such retailers, as the subset of models that are available this way have quite many retailers selling them (even big retailers like Amazon [amazon.com] ). Then the discounting that phone service providers offer can still be offered for those that prefer to not pay the full price up front, and even a reduced price overall, for using their service.

I wish them well but... (4, Insightful)

Gonoff (88518) | about 6 years ago | (#25144587)

I am probably one of the majority.
If I want to look at the internet, I like a big screen.
If I want to take pictures, I want 10 megapixels.
If I want to send someone some words, I want a keyboard.

My phone is really good for me speaking to someone. That is what I use it for. I could use skype on my laptop but the phone has a better form factor.

At work I find multifunction devices a bad thing. Scanners scan good, faxes fax, printers print and so on. Those clever boxes that do all three, never seem to do any of them as well.
If my phone plays music as well as an mp3 player, that's good but there are few other things I have seen mobile phones do as well as the original devices.

Re:I wish them well but... (1)

Arimus (198136) | about 6 years ago | (#25144671)

Amen to that... pity you don't work in a position to influence handset manufacturers:

I want a phone which is primarily a phone first and foremost. I don't care how many pixels the camera has, if I want to get a good photo I'll use either my point and shoot or my DSLR, if I want to browse the internet I'll use my N800 or my pda.

If only handset manufacturers would remember the most important ability for a phone is the ease of making calls alot of people would have an easier time.

Re:I wish them well but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144777)

My phone is really good for me speaking to someone. That is what I use it for. I could use skype on my laptop but the phone has a better form factor.

And my phone isn't even much good for that, either.

Tell you what, wireless phone companies, how about instead of offering me however-many-MBps for Internet applications, you allocate 64kbps (yes, 64 kilobits per second) for an uncompressed voice stream. You know, so I can talk on the goddamn thing without it sounding like a 16kbps MP3 that was recorded underwater.

I'd gladly pay by the bit for quality voice comms, but the one thing that I want to do with a phone -- hear other people talk, and have other people understand what I'm saying -- is the one thing they refuse to offer me.

Re:I wish them well but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144935)

I could use skype on my laptop but the phone has a better form factor.

I use a box that lets me plug a regular phone (cordless or whatever) into Skype. Then I use Skype and have a regular phone at the same time. ;)

With that said, I don't like the latency with Internet based phones. There is always that slight delay between when you speak and when you're heard (or the reverse); makes conversation feel odd at times. It's cheaper though, I have SkypeOut and SkypeIn setup and can make unlimited long distance calls plus cheap international calls for about 1/4 the price of my land-line which doesn't even have free long distance.

Re:I wish them well but... (1)

bendodge (998616) | about 6 years ago | (#25145133)

Those clever boxes that do all three, never seem to do any of them as well.

I'd agree that's true with your average coupon/bundled multifunction printers, but I have to say that the HP Officejet Pro 7600's are awesome. It's got everything I could want: built-in ethernet printer server with http interface, color LCD screen with usable resolution, an embedded OS smart enough to print stuff directly off an SD card, a normal scan bed and a copier-style scan slot (they may use the same optics, I'm not sure), auto-duplexing, etc. The only thing it's missing is wireless.

You get what you pay for. That goes for phones, too.

who is struggling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144601)

who did you say have been struggling?

if the carriers and manufacturers cared whether customers actually used all the features they jam into their phones they'd prioritize implementing them right. but they don't.

*their* principle concern is lengthening the list of features in marketing material and increasing price.
 
google isn't solving a problem for them.

I don't @*&!! want a camera in my @*&! pho (4, Interesting)

keraneuology (760918) | about 6 years ago | (#25144607)

The Samsung i730 non-camera PDA/smartphone is exactly what I need and want, but I need a replacement as it is showing the wear and tear. I want a smartphone just like this but WITHOUT A *&!*&@ CAMERA! I go in and out of courtrooms and secure facilities all the time. I want to keep my phone with me and I don't want to leave it out in the car where it could be stolen or - even worse - ring without me being there to answer it. Verizon refuses to sell me the phone I want claiming that Samsung and Motorola told them that such phones can't be made. I had an email exchange with Motorola about this issue: Me: I want a bluetooth-enabled smartphone/PDA without a camera. Verizon says that you are refusing to make one. Them: We don't sell cellphones. Talk to Verizon. Me: I did talk to Verizon. They say you won't produce the phone I want to buy. Them: We make cellphones very happy good. Me: I will give you money if you give me a cell phone that has the features I want. Them: ?Script_error

Re:I don't @*&!! want a camera in my @*&! (2, Informative)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 6 years ago | (#25144853)

Blackberry 8800 - no camera.

Re:I don't @*&!! want a camera in my @*&! (1)

keraneuology (760918) | about 6 years ago | (#25144975)

I'll check it out. Do you know if I can load my large library of eBooks onto it? I currently run mobipocket and have about 400Mb of documents, books, papers and whatnot on my xD card.

Re:I don't @*&!! want a camera in my @*&! (1)

MikShapi (681808) | about 6 years ago | (#25144907)

Dude, let go.

Ebay is your friend.

Re:I don't @*&!! want a camera in my @*&! (2, Informative)

keraneuology (760918) | about 6 years ago | (#25144965)

That's where I got my i730, which by now is hopelessly out of date. I mean, seriously - it only supports 802.11b I'd LIKE something cutting edge, but for some reason the corporations of the world have declared that everybody wants/needs a camera.

Re:I don't @*&!! want a camera in my @*&! (2, Interesting)

drerwk (695572) | about 6 years ago | (#25145155)

[no camera because I'm] in and out of courtrooms and secure facilities all the time

I've had the same problem, and there are many places that will remove the camera for you. I've also seen one with a penny epoxied on the lens.
google "security cell phone remove camera"
http://www.iresq.com/iphone/detail.php?prodID=P011036 [iresq.com]

Re:I don't @*&!! want a camera in my @*&! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25145167)

Sounds like your problem is Verizon. Buy the unlocked version, or just take a soldering iron and some black resin to the camera lens. Remove it and or cover it in epoxy and presto, you don't have a camera phone.

I don't think that the carriers are "struggling".. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 years ago | (#25144611)

I admit that my situation is worse than many(el-cheapo-with-contract verizon phone); but I hardly get the impression that the carrier or the manufacturer are struggling to get me to use the phone's hardware features.

Verizon cripples bluetooth on all non smartphones they sell(headset only, no obex etc) in order to force you to buy media from their overpriced store and encourage you to use the phone camera to send MMSes. They don't package cables or software for connecting to computers with their basic phones(or even attempt to upsell you on such accessories). Going directly through the manufacturer and/or with third party utilities, it is possible to connect the phone to a computer, and with a bit of hacking I've heard tethering is even possible.

I don't mean to underestimate the stupidity and willful ignorance of users; but this is mostly the carriers problem. Their obsession with all-data-must-be-transferred-through-our-network-and-paid-for is particularly troublesome. If cell companies sold computers, you'd need a family plan and a SIM card for each of your peripherals. 10 bucks a month would cover your mouse's connection. Depending on how much you used it, you could pay for right clicks at 5 cents a piece, or 5.99 for unlimited right clicks.

How about JUST a mobile phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144645)

How about a mobile phone that is very good at just making and receiving calls (and a simple phone number directory) ?

The reason is a lack of cryptography (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144653)

There's just no use for a good source of entropy on a phone. What else would you use the noise generator for?

Cell phone companies are dicks. (1)

DinZy (513280) | about 6 years ago | (#25144669)

The manufacturers take a standard USB cable and change the shape of the connector so they can charge you 40 bucks for it. The service providers charge 5 bucks so I can get an app to access my email and make use of my 15/month data plan. They both just nickel and dime the crap out of customers and provide shit features at that.

I am all for an open platform and I will buy one of those phones in 2years.

There's a disconnect here (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 6 years ago | (#25144699)

Has anyone at Google considered that the reason I have a phone with a camera is because it's hard to get a decent phone that doesn't have a crappy built-in camera? If I want to take pictures, I'll use something with optics that don't suck.

Likewise for the address book, the text input (gag!), the audio (which is a spectacular pain to use anyway) sucks, the Internet access costs a body part per page and is unreadable anyway, and so on.

they suck bricks! Get me a touchscreen phone that's basically my Palm Titanium with GSM and GPS and you have a customer.

I pine for my StarTac 7868 (1)

rah1420 (234198) | about 6 years ago | (#25144765)

I had a StarTac on my Verizon Wireless plan -- a family share plan. It was grandfathered in and life was good.

When I wanted to give someone else a new phone with my New Every Two freebie, I'd move my StarTac to their line, activate my "new" phone on my line, then re-activate my StarTac on my line, and activate the new phone on theirs. I had high wattage output and a phone that I really liked. REALLY liked.

Then once after two years, I forgot. And the StarTac fell off. No amount of pleading with customer service let me reactivate that, even though it was off for literally two minutes.

Now I hate Verizon but unfortunately I hate the other carriers worse. Unless anyone knows of a carrier that will allow me to use my StarTac again...

I don't need Bells and Whistles. My wife wants an iPhone. I want two tin cans and a damp piece of string.

Dont need the extras (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144775)

Hey all I need a phone to do is store numbers and call people. A simple calender and calculator are also nice. I do not want all the extra faldercarb.

The Cameras SUCK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144801)

The biggest reason I don't use the camera on my phone is because it's TERRIBLE! You could stand on the lighted side of Mercury and there still wouldn't be enough light for it, and it'd use a shutter speed of a second or two, with a lock time of two or three more seconds, and you'd still end up with blurry, out of focus, crap. Besides, I've got several thousand bucks worth of DSLR and lenses, and no need whatsoever for a bunch of "Facebook bullspit" photos.

The Cake Is a Lie. (1)

Gricey (154787) | about 6 years ago | (#25144815)

I think the point is, and I speak for all miners everywhere, when did you ever hear of a Rich Miner? The man is a fraud! Sent from Google to steal our freedom!

Camera Phones (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | about 6 years ago | (#25144881)

Let's look at the problem with camera phones. I'm on my third, an iPhone 3G.

  • Lens: The lenses are pathetic, but what do you expect for something that has to be 3mm across and 1mm deep. Don't forget they are made of plastic and usually designed to cost about $0.001. You'll never get a decent picture out of them. The best camera phone photos I've seen come from phones with standard hand-held digicam size sensors and lenses, which are closer to cameras with phone functionality tacked on.
  • Sensor: Again, when your sensor is 1x1mm, you're not going to get good pictures in anything under bright sun. If you can't take a picture indoors, what's the point? Oh, right, you added a "flash". One small semi-bright whiteish LED is not a "flash".
  • Getting the picture: The iPhone is great here. Plug it into my computer, and iPhoto imports it like any other camera. I could also email it. Yet with my Razr I either had to put it on the little micro-sd card, find the adapter and mess with that, use a strange program like Bitpim (not the friendliest), or just send it in an MMS (at a large cost to me).

Lets face it, things like cameras are crammed on the phone as a bullet point and no thought is given to how it operates or how easy it is for someone to use.

My mom has never used the photo function on either of here two camera capable phones (the previous one she owned, and the current). She can't get the photos off (would need a special cable and software) except by sending them for $0.25 each (or whatever insane price Sprint charges).

Heck, that's what my parents (and most "normal" people I've run across) have learned about their phones. They do neat things, and each one comes with a horrendously expensive charge. Phone calls are one thing, but text messages are $0.10 each unless you pay monthly. Web browsing is useful, except you pay $0.25 per KB unless you pay monthly. Games are fun, but they cost at least $5 to buy and most must be bought on a subscription basis (every 30 days or 3 months it's another $5).

Lesson they learned? Don't use the phone for anything but as a phone, it's too expensive.

Re:Camera Phones (1)

tuxedobob (582913) | about 6 years ago | (#25145035)

Bingo. Want people to use more phone features? Stop charging an arm and a leg.

Re:Camera Phones (1)

Dynedain (141758) | about 6 years ago | (#25145065)

My mom has never used the photo function on either of here two camera capable phones (the previous one she owned, and the current). She can't get the photos off (would need a special cable and software) except by sending them for $0.25 each (or whatever insane price Sprint charges).

Hell, my mom has never used the photo function on her iPhone. She loves how easy it is to use the contact list and email, but anything beyond that she doesn't use. She didn't want to switch from her Windows Treo (which she loathed for good reason), but just the ease of use of those two features have made it a godsend for her.

Re:Camera Phones (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | about 6 years ago | (#25145125)

Heck, that's what my parents (and most "normal" people I've run across) have learned about their phones. They do neat things, and each one comes with a horrendously expensive charge. Phone calls are one thing, but text messages are $0.10 each unless you pay monthly. Web browsing is useful, except you pay $0.25 per KB unless you pay monthly. Games are fun, but they cost at least $5 to buy and most must be bought on a subscription basis (every 30 days or 3 months it's another $5).

You missed out perhaps the biggest mobile phone scam in the US: paying to receive calls and texts. And usually at the same rate as it costs to make them, no less! Now spam texts and robodialers not only waste your time, they actually cost you money too!

Would you "bend over and take it" in the same way if it was your landline?

Phone use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25144895)

If I'm going to use the camera on my phone there better dang well be a drunk midget on helium there singing the good ship lolipop!!

Actually that was the last major use of it.

phone features (1)

zmollusc (763634) | about 6 years ago | (#25145049)

Disregarding the camera freaks' shrieking about a qvga resolution ccd with professional lenses giving better results than a 5 megapixel camera phone, I find the biggest drawback to the camera on my phone is that it only takes pictures 5 to 10 seconds after I am pointing it at the thing i want to photograph and pressing the button.
WTF is it doing, and why can't it start doing it as soon as i open the lens cover and start aiming?

   

It would help if they would quit locking down... (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | about 6 years ago | (#25145103)

and hobbling the phones.

Mostly I don't care about these things. The few times I have, it's been a total pain to find out they want some money for this, disabled that, branded and broke this, and so on....

Funny, my kids ended up with a cheap ass Cricket phone plan. Mostly in city, moderate coverage, the usual discount deal. However, all the stuff on their phones just works and guess what? They use the hell out of it!

Most people would explore and play with their phones more, if they didn't fear some bullshit charge at the end of the month.

Gee... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 6 years ago | (#25145151)

"80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on the model"

"80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on [att.com] the [1800mobiles.com] CARRIER [devicetime.com] "

There, fixed that for ya.

Verizon is legendary for crippling phones, forcing you to use their website stuff to work with photo files, and of course denying any way to copy ringtones to the phone - for the obvious and logical reason to increase their profits. I understand, but I've never owned a Verizon phone. Not even when they weren't Verizon.

ATT/Cingular less so, but they do seem to play games with wacko web tools, or require you to buy/download the special software, and sometimes it just doesn't work very well. My last Cingular phone was a T637, and fLOAT's tools were slicker than snot. I would never hesitate to have a Sony Ericsson phone, knowing that there are great tools out there to make these into more useful devices.

I dunno much about Sprint, except that people have told me that their tools vary from inscrutable to unusable. But the people I know think Sprint is pus anyways, so I discount their opinions a little. They're all NASCAR freaks anyways...

TMobile seems as simple as can be, but I have a BlackBerry, so it's not fair. But their web album thing is unnecessarily complicated. And Bluetooth transfers are not so easy with a 7105t.

Don't blame the player, blame the game. Using phones as camers leaves you prey to the carrier's revenue enhancement schemes. And some carriers play hard.

oh, and some phones are impossible to use. Yup.

Apple ... (3, Interesting)

dindi (78034) | about 6 years ago | (#25145157)

I am a software engineer, just for the record, and I have to admit that most of my phones are HARD to use, they are painful, and they constantly have connection problems.

My last phone before my iphone (which I admit LACKS a lot of features) was a business edition $600 phone.

When I tried to connect it to my windows machine, I had to pirate bluetooth software, because the one that came with my various dongles (I have like 5 here) were .. umh.. CRAP. Then the supplied nokia software worked, then did not, then found my phone, then did not, then crashed, then .. you name it.

I know that according to many geeks and nerds an iphone is a toy, a shit, it lack function, and 3g and blabla .....

But I connect the thing, it downloads my pictures, syncs my calendar I can drag and drop music, and it just works.

Yes you guessed, I also switched to a mac, and do my office and freelancing work on a mac (mostly PHP, some ASP, some widget (yahoo, osx) programming and network/infrastructure/UNIX-Linux consulting) ....

Yeah you guessed, it is more for the UNIX for me than for anything else, but my iphone is my first phone I actually use to the limit, because it is not a PAIN IN THE ARSE to use...

Oh some people say it sucks as a phone. I am not sure, I make 2 calls tops a day, and keep them short, so not sure. It still rocks as a wireless device, and when a decent SIP client comes out on it and Fring, I stop carrying my nokia (which I use as a wifi phone at the office, as there is no reception whatsoever there (kinda like a basement in a hole under 4 stories of concrete. has big windows though :)))

It's the cost of service "packages" (1)

eagl (86459) | about 6 years ago | (#25145213)

I got a phone with a decent camera, micro-SD port, and GPS. But when I asked what I needed to do for basic stuff like using the GPS or sending photos, I was told that I had to sign up for their entire internet and data package, which would have added more than 50% to my monthly bill before data charges.

To hell with that. I don't need expensive data services I will never use just so I can use my phone as a GPS. I can buy a separate GPS for less than the cost of 5 months of the packaged data and internet services, and I can always put the photos I take onto the microSD card and use the SD adapter to sneakernet them to my computer.

If the phone companies would let me pay for only the features I want instead of making me pay for a huge package I won't ever use, then I'd probably use the nifty features my phone has. But for the same reason I won't buy an iphone (I don't want to spend money on features I know in advance I won't use), I won't pay for the service packages just to be able to send my wife a photo or find my location. Specialized devices are still cheaper and don't require expensive service plans (or 3-year contracts with early termination fees).

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