Up At The Sharp End

UP AT THE SHARP END

Paul Marks, managing director

Paul Marks, managing director, Fonefi nders & Mfonex

 
Sohail Ratansi
Sohail Ratansi, managing director, Fones U Like
 
Chris Mayers
Chris Mayers, managing director, Border Mobiles

Each month the IMPDA asks a panel of dealers how they feel about the hottest topics affecting the channel community. This month, our fi rst topic is touchscreen. Everything these days is going touchscreen. With the launch of the iPhone, a lot more touchscreens are now emerging onto the market. So, is the standard button mobile on its last days? Is touchscreen going to be the standard for tomorrow or will this be yet another fad that will slowly fade away?

Chrisse Mayers, managing director at Border Mobiles:
Border Mobiles fi rst started in April 2004. It is based in the small town of Hawick on the border of Scotland and England. It is a small family fi rm supplying mobiles via its website and from out of its own shop: Touchscreen is a technology here to stay. More and more manufactures are realising the universal language of pictures; a message envelope is the same in any language and is easily understood by all ages. Mobile manufacturers realise the age at which a person owns a mobile is getting younger annually so therefore want the users to be able to use the handsets. The idea of ‘teach them young get them hooked’ springs to mind.

With the integration globally of different nationalities and the language barrier, touchscreen with images can be used to communicate easier when the spoken language is diffi cult. It can also be helpful for those who have literacy problems; because touchscreens are larger, bigger images can be used making use for poor sighted easier. Touchscreen products in general have a wider audience because they can incorporate more features without the necessity to increase product size.

There will always be a market for the conventional product, with parts easier to replace, and LCD’s not so vulnerable to scratching or breaking due to harsh treatment by the user. Yet consumers like choice, and like to be different from others. Touchscreen is today’s fashion and looks technical, therefore it is popular and in high demand. I do think there will be more touchscreen users particularly as price decreases and the product becomes more accessible to every price bracket.

Sohail Ratansi, director, Fones U Like:
Sohail has been involved in telecoms since 1996, from a retail job to Cable & Wireless to a break in banking, then back to the mobile industry.

He set up Fones U Like in 2006, starting in consumer, and moving into B2B. Now, 95% of the company’s business is B2B :Touchscreen in mobiles is looking like an interesting innovation. I think it will not replace the standard button keypad, but add to it. Standard keypads allow those with impaired vision to use the phones with the number 5 key being slightly raised. Touch screen so far doesn’t allow it, and it will be interesting to see how manufacturers tackle that problem, unless of course they can mould the screen with a raised section or indeed produce a screen that encompasses Braille dots on the screen; this would not disturb the ordinary user but would help those impaired people.

Touchscreen has been around for a while now and has not so far been the standard.Touchscreen is fun to play with and Apple has set the standard as the touchscreen user interface to compete with.

Naturally, touchscreen also drains the processor power of the handset, so perhaps manufacturers should be looking at addressing that problem for future

models. The current standard will still be the keypad in the future who knows, maybe the touchscreen fad may go to a different level; me personally, I cannot see that happening for the next fi ve years at least.

Paul Marks, managing director, Fonefi nders & Mfonex:
Paul Marks has been in mobiles since 2003, selling mobiles to the public and business. Based in Orpington in Kent, he fi rst founded Fonefi nders, then in 2006 joined and became operations director of Mfonex, an ecommerce solutions company, that’s head offi ce is in Manchester: I personally love the touchscreen technology. But I fi nd that the touchscreen phones have too much software and these are the ones that cause the most problems.

Phones these days have too many applications. It’s ok for the technophobes, but it is these which appear to go wrong fi rst and for those who have purchased them for the fi rst time, so many applications can be daunting. What has happened to the simple phone? Yes, they can have touchscreens, which would be of assistance especially to the elderly and disabled, but with less other applications.

The other thing that is great about touchscreens and that I fi nd useful, is using the pointer helps when I am trying to dial numbers. Perhaps they should make a simple phone with a touchscreen. I fi nd push buttons diffi cult but that may be down to my little fat fi ngers.

The push buttons appear to be getting smaller and I fi nd myself misdialling a lot, and the writing is also going that way. So personally I think standard keys have had their day and I can see more phones using this. Small buttons and the small writing that goes with it will cause many problems, certainly when the eyesight starts to go, so touchscreens would be more welcomed and easier to use.

 

Knowing that over half the world’s population own a mobile, that’s an awful lot of plastic and parts which
will lie in the ground for a very long time. Is it now the time for a biodegradable mobile to be produced,
or if not, will it be left to a handful of companies to recycle old mobiles? Is their a way that
dealers can help in disposal of old mobiles and at the same time protect the environment?

 

Ratansi, Fones U Like:
Green phones will be a very good money maker. However, Nokia recently released the 3110 Evolve, which unfortunately didn’t do too well. Maybe this is due to it not being taken by any networks shame as this would have pushed the green message more; perhaps they might do so sometime in the future.

I offer my clients a chance to recycle their phones in return for accessories for their new handsets, like bluetooth headsets or memory cards. Moving on, it would be good for manufacturers to start producing handsets that are from biodegradable materials or at least using recycled materials. These days there are many materials which are biodegradable, and there is no reason why manufacturers cannot make mobiles from them. The beauty of this is obvious; use the phone then recycle or throw away knowing that it will breakdown easily. The questions is cost; will manufacturers be able to produce a replacement cheaper?

Mayers, Border Mobiles:
Biodegradable handset? Consumers look for reliability and durability from products they buy. The mere suggestion of biodegradable suggests a product that is not built to last, and images of mobiles composting in the bottom of an occasional user’s glove compartment or handbag are hard not to think of! So from that point of view it’s hard to imagine the majority taking up the idea.

Consumers also like to think they are doing their bit where possible for the environment so I think it’s up to the manufacturers and sellers to make users aware of the various recycling programmes in place and also the damage mobile phones could potentially have on the environment.

Because the product is not always cheap and it is diffi cult to see how a mobile could be recycled, recyclers need to show how they recycle the product, and what happens to its components. It’s easy to see how an envelope can become a toilet roll or a cardboard box, or even a plastic bottle can become a plant pot, but how can consumers be sure that any data on their phone will be destroyed and not become part of another mobile?

Mobile phones and mobile phone resellers have had bad press over the years for one thing or another, and because of this consumers are always going to be wary. They will always doubt their product was fi nished with before disposal, or that someone will have access to their personal records stored on their device.

Ultimately it will be down to a few to recycle the product, better understanding of what happens during recycling needs to be fed throughout the market and more users will recycle.

 

The IMPDA (Independent Mobile Phone Dealers Association) is open to all UK dealers and distributors. The aim of the IMPDA is to achieve a level playing fi eld for its members, and to champion quality improvements in the industry for a better future. If you would like to join the IMPDA then simply email membership@impda.co.uk. If you have a concern or story then either email admin@impda.co.uk or call 0844 884 9702.

 
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