Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Still thinking handset-as-a-modem will be big? Think again.

I keep hearing arguments in favour of handset-as-a-modem as a major device form factor of choice but I remain sceptical, for six main reasons:

  1. Laptops will increasingly come with HSPA module as standard. So, where's the market for a peripheral device of any sort?
  2. Handset manufacturers are hardly likely to start pushing their device as a dumb modem. Sure, if you're committed enough to finding a way to use it as a modem, you will, but it's not mass market.
  3. It won't provide as good an experience. Handsets will lag modems in terms of transmission speed. Probably not a critical issue for most people, but relevant.
  4. It's in the interests of the MNO to sell 2 devices. Why sell an add-on when you can sell a whole new 18m contract or dedicated prepay device which has its own credit?
  5. People mostly don't go for devices that can do everything. Who needs a phone, blackberry, MP3 player AND camera when your phone can do it all? No-one. Who has actually gone the whole hog and dumped all those separates? No-one, pretty much.
  6. You can't share your phone. You can share your modem. There's no way I'd leave my phone at home for my other half to use when she's working from home, but I'm happy to do that with the broadband. OK, so you also can't share an embedded modem, but that's another issue entirely.

If you want to know more, see the following report I wrote a few months ago - Mobile broadband devices: from USB modems to where?

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