Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Segmentation is a way of life, so is messaging

There is a post on Mike Mace's blog that I would recommend to everyone in the business. It talks about the shape of the smartphone market. There are many arguments I am not fully subscribing to (although it is hard to argue with someone with market data ;-) but it is a great read.

I met Mike a long time ago at one of the PalmSource conferences in Munich. Great events, because they were coinciding with the Oktoberfest. I remember more the beer than anything else, but I have a picture of Mike on stage with a slide with Funambol on it. I pitched to him the concept of a synchronization portal for mobile developers and he loved it. Too bad we did not really make anything out of it because his company was not interested. Anyway, time has passed, Mike has left PalmSource and they have lost all their developers...

What I like about his post is the concept of segmentation. I have written about it many times. Call it divergence if you want, but the idea of a uber-device for everyone will not fly. Specialized devices will win. Squeezing a PC in a phone is not a good idea to get the mass market. I do not believe Apple really wants to do it with the iPhone: they are more catering to their captive segment (Entertainment, in Mike's diagram), adding a telephony feature.

However, I have to disagree on one major item. Mike puts "communication" in a separate bubble. While I agree on putting the communication freaks in one separate area (and leave them there because they are annoying), there are two elements of communication that are common to every telephony-enabled device and every segment:
  • voice
  • messaging
You see also in his diagram, pictured below.

That "and SMS outside the US" hides the fact that people believe a basic phone feature is messaging. Not heavy stuff like a BlackBerry and a keyboard. Light stuff, like voice and SMS. Or the next SMS.

It is not just Europe and Asia, it is also in the US. Messaging is horizontal and a basic need country-independent. Like voice.

The Zone of Death does not have devices but two simple and basic features: voice and messaging. Those are for everyone. The mass market.