Koreans make great phones

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samsungRegular readers know that I keep harping about “user experience” and all that stuff. Well I am not the only one who thinks so. Some research released by London-based research firm, Strategy Analytics shows that South Korean handset makers have made this their top priority and as a result are picking up market share from other hand-set makers. Analyst Eddie Tapiero says: “Samsung, LG, and Kyocera have done an exceptional job improving handset feature values, while Nokia and Motorola have not fared as well. This is a wake up call for all vendors, as consumers become ever more demanding of features and styles, and less bound by traditional brand relationships.”

I agree. Nokia phones (6600 is an exception) have become too complicated and confusing even for top end users. The simplicity which made Motorola and Nokia household names is missing. The Koreans however are trying to keep it simple, even when offering complicated features on their handsets. (Read review of Samsung 415.)

The future is tilted towards the Koreans because they are listening. Others better get their act together. Why? Strategy Analytics survyed a 1000 US phone users, and nearly 50% said that they were unhappy with their handsets and were going to buy better phones in the future because they like all the cool features being offered by the likes of LG and Samsung. David Kerr, Vice President of Strategy Analytics’ Global Wireless Practice, notes, “More features, more awareness of multimedia opportunity, leads users to compare their relatively limited devices with future multimedia promise. This is a good news/bad news scenario. The bad news is that overall satisfaction is down. The good news is that if vendors can deliver improved performance in displays, user interface, and form factor, there is significant replacement potential.”

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My last two handsets have been Samsung, and I’ve been pretty happy with their interface. It’s been easy to figure out how to use the phone without reading the manual, and the number of keypresses required is acceptable.

My wife just got a new Sanyo, and its interface is pretty similar to the Samsung interface (nicer in some ways). So it’s not just the Koreans that get it.

Overall, I agree with your point: it’s not just features that matter, it’s how easy it is to use the device. Oftentimes buyers concentrate too much on specs and not usability, but I think that is starting to change.

A small nit: Kyocera is a Japanese company, and unless they’ve moved it, their cell phone business is based out of San Diego, since they bought Qualcomm’s handset business.

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