As the average consumer embraces ever more complex technology, Verizon is offering a series of classes beginning in New York City to show consumers what their PDAs and smartphones can do for them. I’m sure many of our readers aren’t in need of such a class — which will teach users all about texting, syncing music and emails — but it’s a great idea.
I hated my BlackBerry Pearl when I first got it; it took what felt like forever to figure out how it was supposed to work. If done well, teaching people like me to use their phones should increase data revenue and overall ARPU for Verizon. If done well, it will also make committed smartphone users out of most participants. And luring people into the store and to teach them the “Verizon way,” means consumers are likely to pick up a few high-margin accessories to bolster their education.
People in the technology field know that poor usability and device complexity hurts customer satisfaction, but keep cramming more features into them. As consumers, rather than enterprises, buy more devices and drive technology adoption, usability needs to improve, or else vendors such as Best Buy with their Geek Squad or Verizon with its classes will take up the slack. At that point, consumers are more likely to heed the advice of their favorite Geek rather than the glossy ads of an OEM when looking for their next purchase.