Data kindly sourced from ChangeWave
The chart above, generated from data produced by two ChangeWave surveys (iPhone survey here, Blackberry Storm here), shows user satisfaction levels among iPhone and Blackberry Storm owners a month after purchasing their device. The blue area in each stack corresponds to users who were ‘very satisfied’, red is for ‘somewhat satisfied’, yellow is ‘unsatisifed’ and green is for those who couldn’t say either way. So, for the purposes of this analysis, more blue and less yellow equals a better result.
In July 2007, a month after the launch of the original iPhone, 77 percent of users awarded the device the highest rating of ‘very satisfied’. In contrast, only 33% of users awarded this rating to the Blackberry Storm when ChangeWave conducted a similar survey in December 2008.
If we look at the ‘unsatisified’ rating, this accounted for just 5 percent of iPhone owners, but 14 percent of Blackberry Storm customers.
To compare this another way, almost 2.5 times as many iPhone users were very satisfied with their device and almost 3 times as many Blackberry Storm users were unsatisfied.
Both companies benefit from fiercely loyal existing user bases, both companies were launching their device as an exclusive product on a single network and both companies benefited from significant media coverage in the run-up to release. So, what has gone wrong for the Storm?
Delve deeper into ChangeWave’s survey and we find some other interesting results, notably around the popularity of the touchscreen on the Storm. Despite being marketed as the device’s main feature, some 20 percent of users cited it as the feature they liked least after spending a month with the handset. 21 percent chose the absence of a QWERTY keyboard, which was sacrificed to make way for the touchscreen, and another 20 percent thought the Storm’s biggest problem was being ‘difficult to use’.
The survey neglected to mention the numerous software glitches afflicting the initial Storm devices (which are now being slowly fixed by over-the-air updates), but it is not hard to imagine these contributed significantly to the 20 percent who found ease of use to the be the major weakness.
Touchscreen devices are set to dominate industry headlines for the next 12 months. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Nokia’s CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said his company – for a long time the least enthusiastic supporter of touchscreens among the major manufacturers – would reverse this position in 2009, going after competitors with a ‘vengeance’ by launching a wide range of new handsets with this feature.
As the industry prepares for a huge surge in touchscreen products, what mobile user experience lessons can we learn from the Blackberry Storm?
– Touchscreens are just components – they do not represent an experience in themselves.
– Tweaking an existing platform and adding a touchscreen will not deliver a revolutionary new set of products.
– Touch interactions are fundamentally different from those performed with keys or even a stylus, and will often require a completely revised user interface. Nokia, which has been busily skinning Series 60 in preparation for the introduction of touchscreen products, would do well to take note.
– If you start your product design process with the premise of ‘we need a touchscreen device in our portfolio’, you can expect to end up with a bad user experience.
– The mobile industry has made this mistake time and again, seeking to sell users the promise of a particular technology rather than focusing on how that technology can be applied to enhance the customer experience.
– Touchscreens do not change the rules – remember, always start by designing for the user rather than designing around a technology.
– Following trends will only take you so far and it is easy for a company to lose sight of the unique characteristics which have made it successful in the past, especially when trying to expand into new market segments.
– In RIM’s case, it built its business on providing extremely reliable and easy to use products which are great at delivering an integrated email, messaging and voice experience.
– The arrival of the iPhone has produced a new competitive threat and RIM is responding to pressure by launching a touchscreen product.
– By launching too early, RIM has damaged its reputation with existing users and lowered the chances of customers acting as ‘ambassadors’ for its products.
– RIM would have been better served by waiting until its smart designers had come up with a genuinely differentiated touchscreen experience, built around the connected platform principles which have made it successful.
– For instance, video content works extremely well on a large touchscreen. RIM’s unique selling point for a device like the Storm could have been a connected video experience with the same reliability and ease of use as its email system.
– The real innovation would have been in the back-end systems and client software powering this – the touchscreen would have been the component completing the experience.
I’d be very interested to hear opinions from the MEX community on this. Why do you think the Blackberry Storm is failing to live up to expectations while the iPhone continues to impress users? What are the essential ingredients for a great touchscreen mobile user experience? Please post your comments to the blog using the links below.