MANILA, December 17, 2004 (STAR) TXT IN D CITY By Patrick R. Garcia (BIDSHOT WIRELESS SERVICES) - The Christmas season is not only known for massive traffic jams, congested malls, simbang gabi and numerous office parties but also the season where cellphone manufacturers whet our appetites with a buffet of new model handsets. In most high-end models this year, the standard fare is a 1.3-megapixel camera with zoom, one-hour video capture, hot swap MMC, seven multiple display formats, multi-player games over Bluetooth, push-to-talk capability and broadband speed with WCDMA and EDGE, just mention a few features. These all sound like jaw-dropping functionalities for some, but do such bold statements that flaunt new technology really help sell handsets?

A recent study by Ericsson which I was able to get my hands on tells that consumers are far more interested in how handsets fit into their lifestyles rather than in pixel resolution and memory on board. Historically, it has been the thrust of most manufacturers to emphasize the technology aspect of their products and how it will change the consumers’ lives. Rather than this, the study says manufacturers should focus more on how handsets fit into what consumers are already doing. People have habits that they want to retain and to actually think that new products are able to immediately retrain them is pure nonsense. As such, these very same habits should be supported instead by maybe moving the activity into the mobile phone arena. A simple example of this is diary writing among teenagers. While diaries have always been popular, a camera phone can now help them still maintain the same habit but now via a different form. What the study noticed is that the depth of functions of newer handset models may eventually drive the adoption of a new habit or lifestyle.

Another factor that drives the speed of change in mobile phone habits is the quick adoption of techies or pioneers. When the proliferation of a new functionality reaches 25 percent, then innovations start to gain user traction and usage take-off. Take the case of the camera phone again. Usage was considered a flop as adoption was slow last year and consumers were worried that the receiving party may not be able to see the picture messages right away. Recent studies show that in 2003, only four percent of the people in the UK took a phonecam snapshot at least once a month. Now the figure is 14 percent. Similar upswings were noted in other European nations as this innovation began take off. Also, the usage patterns of phonecams show that they will not replace true digital cameras as means to immortalize significant events. By contrast, phonecams are increasingly being used to capture spontaneous moments.

I need not mention all the new phone models now as they are already conspicuously plastered on every newspaper practically daily. Such new handset functionalities will be so overwhelmingly juicy, but I always advice consumers to only buy what they will actually use. Keep in mind that handsets with a multitude of functionalities come with clunky software and premium retail pricing to pay for all the extra frills. Bon appetit and Merry Christmas to all!

* * *

Patrick R. Garcia is managing director of Bidshot Wireless Services. For comments or suggestions, type TXTCITY <message> and send to 2920 or e-mail

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved