Lost in the chorus of deserved praise for the Treo 600 is the growing volume of praise being lauded upon the Motorola MPX200 Windows smartphone. With so much attention being paid to development in the market for high-end smartphones, are there lessons to be gleaned from the warm reception that this phone has received.
For the most part, we have seen high-end smartphones look for the same combination of features to drive success:
-Form factor more similar to a PDA than a phone
-Price in excess of $300
The Motorola MPX200 is a stark departure from this formula on all counts as it does not feature a QWERTY keyboard, looks much more like a phone than a PDA, and has a price tag below $300. In the interest of being accurate, it is not fair to say that the MPX200 is the only clamshell form-factor smart phone (the Samsung SPH-i500 was designed with a similar fom-factor but at a higher price point).
The chorus of cheers from MPX200 users raises some interesting issues. To date, much of the smartphone or converged devices market has focused on getting primarily data-first consumers to abandon their mobile phones and adopt do-it-all devices that resemble PDAs in terms of price point, form-factor, and functionality.
There have been very few credible attempts to market smartphones that appeal to phone-first consumers yet still satisfy the needs of data-hungry consumers. For me, a QWERTY keyboard is a must-have for any data application, but there are evidently quite a few customers for whom this need not be the case. If the phone community can crack the code and figure out the combination of price point, features, and form factor that will get traditional voice-only phone customers to consider buying smartphones, they could change the whole way that people think about the category.