Automation Entrepreneurs Mark Riffey

Know your customer – again…

Had a rather uneventful weekend in Conrad MT (yes, another swim meet) this weekend – which is a good thing, though I did manage to stop in and get a picture of “the convenience store sign” on the way there.

NOTE: Beverage dispensers (mainstream ones – not ones that you cant typically get parts for) that were down last weekend at this store were still down this weekend. So much for “most improved”.

Since everyone in Conrad seemed to be doing well business-wise this week, let’s join the frenzy that’s talking about the new Apple iPhone. Hey – everyone else is doing it:)

A friend referenced this iPhone post (which refers to this one, “the original post”). The second one seems to me to be a rather obvious example of a “you are not your customer” lesson.

The guy who posted the original post seemed to think that the iPhone was missing Web2.0 features – specifically social networking features.

Me? I disagree. He says Steve Jobs is getting old and can’t relate to the Web2.0 crowd.  Like many of the comments on this blog, I simply think the poster missed the point of the device – somewhat.

The high profit margin (both on the device and the monthly service fee) doesn’t say “teenager” or “college student” to me.

$600 + $70 a month or so is not really within reach of most teenagers – unless they happen to be drug dealers.

Does that crowd matter to Steve? Sure does….when he’s selling iPods.

On the other hand, when a phone that is worth 25% or more of the value of most teenagers’ cars (yes, I know there are teens driving 2007 Mustangs, Bimmers and the like) – I think the Web2.0 stuff can wait a few software releases.

For me to be excited about it beyond just the cool factor, it has to do a few things:

  • It must work on a “real” network, a network that properly covers rural areas in the West. AT&T isn’t getting my cell $ again anytime soon, for 3 reasons: (1) they don’t do rural very well, and (2) their technology has more mileage on it than Paris Hilton. (3) Reason #2 means that your phone works like crap and sucks power like Los Angeles County on the 1st of August when you are in an area with new technology cell service. Like it or not, the rural West is mostly stuck with Verizon. Most days, that’s a good thing. Some days, like with any carrier, it isn’t.
  • It has to show that it wears well and can spend all the live long day in your pocket without self-destructing, dialing Botswana or redialing people you don’t want the lip balm in your pocket to be calling. Yes, I own a Treo 650, the phone you love to hate. It reboots in your pocket several times a day. It unlocks itself and dials Botswana, or Albuquerque – sometimes at the least ideal times. People regularly complain that they can’t hear you, even after you stop using the Bluetooth earpiece that it sorta works with when it wants to. Its buttons stick (no, not because I dumped a hot fudge sundae on it), and the replacements that you get via warranty (for $50) rarely work better than the one you got sick of.
  • It simply must sync flawlessly with Outlook’s calendar and contact list – and if it can do so remotely, more power to it.

The Business 2.0 guy hit the nail on the head that things need to happen to make it capable of replacing Blackberries, Treos and the like. That’s what will get them an order for 25,000 iPhones from a big corporate AND it’s what’ll snag SOHOs, Realtors, and anyone else who regularly uses their car, a coffee shop, and a fence post as their office.

One of my least geeky friends, probably one of the last to give up his paper organizer, says that he’d never go back to paper now that he has a Blackberry. Why? Because his calendar is up to date no matter where he is and no matter how many appointments his assistant makes for him while he’s on the road.

For my money, that’s the number one killer app for a smart phone.
If I’m the wanna-be-iPhone buyer, I have to know that my assistant, my Outlook (or the Apple equivalent, etc) and my phone all speak the same when someone asks “Can I see you on Tuesday at 930?” All the other stuff is nice to have, but an up-to-date calendar that reflects what my Outlook calendar says will keep me out of the dog house, the poor house and the big house:)

As for the Web 2.0 social networking stuff noted in the original post, I think he has a point – but perhaps not until there’s a $99 iPhoneMini.