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Poll 2: Defining the benefits

This poll is a continuation of the research “A Value Based Framework for Smartphone OS Analysis”, which I wrote about earlier. This time around, you are asked to rank the various smartphone OS on their positioning in providing the Benefits that users want.

When looking at what benefits you want out of owning a phone, it is not only hard to distinguish who will be the clear winner among the smartphone OS platforms based on their capabilities, but also to the fact that individual consumers place substantially different values on the different benefits.  However, only by looking at the benefits can you really have a meaningful discussion about who the winners will be.

The Basics:  On being a phone with data capability

The initial buyers of smartphones were clearly people who were focused on increasing their productivity and connectivity first and foremost.  BlackBerry became a clear leader in providing PIM and email  access, and certainly never focused on the higher aspects in the benefit propositions. Apple’s AppStore has changed this game by broadening the overall appeal of a smartphone by substantially increasing the entertainment aspect, and moving the bar by really making it cool to be a smartphone owner (thus enhancing the Image benefit).

As a provider of entertainment and information, Apple will arguable not relinquish this lead any time soon, although Google is pushing heavy to get developer support for their platform, and few could argue their competence in providing information.  As for staying connected, whether through email access or social network apps and services, most of the players do this really well at this point.

For productivity, Microsoft and Windows used to enjoy a slight lead with the excellent integration to their desktop products, and this lead may yet continue (for instance, the mapping of contact lists fields with iTunes if you use Outlook is still not 100% accurate).

The softer aspects: Hard to pick the winners

When you move up the hierarchy of benefits provided, it becomes harder to distinguish clear winners. Apple is way behind others in terms of camera quality as an example, and players like SonyEricsson, LG and Nokia knows the importance of a good camera, and are the driving force behind Symbian in that regards.  The AppStore rules for now for killing time with free apps, but as mobile operators get better and better with content services, this advantage disappears somewhat over the long  term.

When it comes to the Image factor, Apple made the smartphone cool. Compared to Windows, certainly there are really cool devices coming out based on the Windows OS, but I think they face quite a hurdle to get a teenager saying they want a Windows phone because Microsoft is so cool. Apple has the lead here, but the Android camp could catch on quickly, especially given how easy it is to develop cool apps that are fully integrated with the phone functions.

Where do you think various players rank?

Have you taken poll 1? If not, please do!

Posted in The Business of Mobile.

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