Tuesday, July 27, 2010
OS: Mobile's new customer service

When I got my HTC Desire, I was reasonably vocal about its shortcomings. The battery life and coverage sucked. I was furious with HTC (who I'd eschewed my iPhone for) and Orange (which had lured me from O2 with the promise of a better rate). The very nice Conor from Orange even got his very nice customer response team to call me and suffer my rant after I complained on Twitter.

Then Google released an Android update (to 2.1 Update-1), and every single problem disappeared instantly.

I used to write about mobile for a living (back in the old days - 2000-2002), and the key question then was who was going to pick up the customer service pieces when something went wrong. There were only two options - the handset manufacturer (who also made the operating system) and the operator. Almost every time it fell to the operator, who had the better front line service centre and was contractually obligated to help.

But with hardware now all pretty similar (can you tell the difference between a Samsung Wave a Sony X10?) and separated from the OS, and the operators now just about all the same on price and coverage, it's often easy to forget that, for most smartphones, it's going to be the OS layer where things will make the most difference.

In future, when something goes wrong with my phone, I'm going to phone Google. And I'll bet a lot of others are waking up to their OS manufacturers too. By the time Windows Phone 7 hits the shops - and with so much debate on the launch - the OS is going to be the focus for many more people.

Which is why the Windows Phone 7 launch later this year is going to make things so interesting. Reports already say it's a game changer in usability and design, but it's when things go wrong - regardless of whether it's with the hardware or the network - that Microsoft is going to find itself right in the middle of the new mobile madness.