Cheaper, Easier Communications Are What Interest People

A new study enforces some of what we’ve been saying for a while about what types of features people want on their mobile phones. The things people find interesting are tools to make it easier to communicate: WiFi, VoIP and voice recognition for text input. What didn’t resonate so much were ideas that just seemed like add-ons: turning your phone into your wallet or turning your phone into a mobile TV. People buy phones to communicate — not to passively consumer broadcast style content. The m-commerce stuff may be a bit trickier, but what this study is basically saying is that unless turning phones into wallets adds something to seriously improve upon the existing wallet experience, people don’t quite see the point. Basically, you don’t hear too many people complaining about having to carry around a wallet — so it’s not clear what problem the mobile phone-as-wallet solution is solving. Derek disagrees: Yes, we need to be cautious when we add functions to the phone. We need to be sure that the costs of so doing do not exceed the benefits on a systemic level. But I disagree with Mike on the m-wallet issue. Managing coins and cash is an expensive, cumbersome waste, which I discuss in the comments. This article quantifies the cost of managing coins, and this one speaks to momentum for phone-based payments.

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