Handset Poll Results: What they mean ?
Jolla (@JollaMobile) October 04, 2012
With our recent handset poll having been live for a few days now, I feel it important to discuss the results to date and what it all means to me.
Resoundingly, the slide out qwerty is leading the pack with almost half of the votes (48% TD), followed by the full touchscreen (28% TD), and then finally the modular qwerty option (17% TD).
So it’s clear from just shy of 3,000 votes that a handset with a physical keyboard is the out-and-out winner (48+17 = 65% of votes).
But what does this all mean, and will it be enough to convince a manufacturer that there is clearly a demand here ?
The problem – as I’ve discussed before – is that a touchscreen-only phone is what the mass market appears to demand currently. You could perhaps further argue (as one of the posters pointed out), that the 3,000 votes to date here may not represent a mass market majority and are more likely the results of a more tech-savvy group of folks – more a tiny niche market perhaps?
I personally do not agree that these are the results of such a minuscule niche group, instead, I feel with the lack of options currently available on the market and the overwhelming supply of touchscreen-only phones, this poll (and others out there) may represent quite a substantial market demand for people who are crying out for a handset like this, like the N900.
Looking at the Nokia N900 sales figures – in the first 5 months – there were 100,000 handsets sold (also please bear in mind this was a totally new untried system with hardly any marketing effort!). Now this may not sound so much compared with the likes of Samsung or Apples flagship models, but clearly there was a healthy demand which could have easily been built upon further given the right marketing efforts and full commitment to the ecosystem.
To me the N900 form factor with open source Linux currently represents a relatively small initial, but consistent market where sales may not be as potentially exponential as some, but the instant demand is right there and now with great prospects to grow further. The N900 (and it’s predecessors) have already gained a strong following, so the easy part is done – all that is required is to build on that.
The touchscreen only option however represents the opposite side of the spectrum where sales could be exponentially high if the manufacturer is able to get the right balance of software/hardware, of course combined with an expensive marketing strategy. But more importantly they have to be able to distinguish and penetrate through the thousands of other similar looking cheap android touchscreen phones out there. Get it wrong in this overcrowded market, and you ain’t going nowhere. Of course you could argue it is the ‘software’ that will set the phone apart (as with the N9), but I largely disagree and emphasise that to the average consumer looking to upgrade on contract,whether it’s got android or tiny monkeys running the insides, IT’S A SHINY TOUCHSCREEN PHONE and it will be then down to which systems the network operators have faith in (ie. android/IOS). Sorry if I haven’t given the ‘average consumer’ enough credit, but if I were to give them just a little credit, then I would say they are far more likely to go for something they have heard about or lightly researched (IOS; Android) than taking a punt on a new, unchartered system.
From a manufacturers point of view, the touchscreen option to me therefore represents the bigger risk, but the bigger payout should they get it ‘right’.
So what do a relatively small, up-and-coming company like Jolla do in this instance ? Do they risk big or do they cater (in an evolutionary kind of way) to whom they know to be their existing customers who are crying out for a replacement to their beloved N900 ?
This brings me back to an old post I made which becomes more and more poignant in this discussion… the handset that satisfies both markets. This in my mind is the only way Jolla can satisfy both markets with one device.
My options if I were Jolla:
1/ I would either release a qwerty slide-out handset which I know will have an instant demand in an evolutionary kind of way from the N900 and build on that, perhaps releasing a touch screen variant in due course for bigger market appeal.
OR the preferable option in terms of simplicity and initial market outreach:
2/ I would release a handset (like N9), but that at least has the option of attaching a modular qwerty keyboard with, at the very least, the same hardware/software functions of the N9/N900.
Finally, I would stick to what I know and what people know me for, and build on that to provide confidence. Something which Nokia never did, leaving me cold with nowhere to go.
Thanks for reading and apologies for (yet another) ranting!