In a highly competitive market like smartphones, it doesn’t surprise that companies turn desperate when it comes to winning new customers. They will try virtually anything to convince you that they have a product with a new feature—even if it really isn’t a new feature.
The heat is on
Without doubt, smartphones are a hot market. There is a ton of money in selling iPhones and Android devices, and everyone in technology is hungry for their share in this market, be it apps or hardware accessories.
Phone makers struggle to keep up with innovations. The groundbreaking technologies have already been introduced four, six years ago and since then, a lot of incremental improvements have occurred. But nothing really groundbreaking.
One could say the latest introduction of fingerprint security technology is groundbreaking. Not because of the idea or technology itself. It has been around for more than a decade. But Apple is probably the first company who thought this through, keeping data secured on the phone’s chip (not in the cloud) and coming from a consumer benefit point of view, improving the user experience of this feature.
What is innovative?
Apple’s fingerprint recognition will replace the million times you entered your login credentials on websites and to connect apps with services.
However, in the big picture, even this major step forward in making the UX more comfortable, making technology get out of the way, may be seen as an incremental improvement.
What about competitors of the iPhone? The struggle with new features leads to an inevitable result: putting “because we can” into the driver’s seat of innovation. Suddenly every technological feature you can build, will eventually find its way into a hardware product and being marketed as a new feature.
“Because we can” as reason for existence
Meet the curved phone, the next generation of “because we can” technology, that doesn’t really make sense. It really isn’t a new feature. It’s not even a marketing gimmick, an add-on type of technology improvement that helps you talking, listening to calls, or using apps.
To tell you the truth, I believe it will even get in the way a lot. That swift gesture to open app settings? Have you ever tipped a bowl too hard on its rim? Bowls have ring shaped bottoms that make the curved surface sit flat on the desk. An object like a phone needs to fit into the palm of your hand. In other words, if it is concave, you will struggle holding it in place while your thumb or finger makes a gesture. A flat surface really doesn’t provide this obstacle, a curved surface introduces it.
The curved phone is a desperate attempt from Samsung and LG to appear innovative when they are not.
Maybe I didn’t look at every aspect of how a curved phone surface could help me achieve goals, use apps, make phone calls. Maybe the target audience of these phones just wants to have something for the wow factor, a phone that looks like it spent too much time on the overheated dashboard of a car parked in the Nevada desert.
But no matter how well you execute your marketing, Samsung and LG—a curved phone isn’t really convincing me to buy one of your products. To the contrary, it is telling me you are running out of ideas.