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I’m told only walking onto a used car lot beats buying a phone as the most distressing shopping experience. As someone who spends a lot of time in phone and shoe shops I’d certainly put shoes before phones. Not because I don’t like buying shoes doing – I love it – it’s because I don’t like dealing with those who sell them. Shop in Orange, Vodafone or best of all Carphone and the salesperson enthuses about their stock. They can tell you how much memory it has, what that means in music tracks, how many megapixels, the advantages of xenon over LED.

Go into a shoe shop to ask about this season’s fashions and you get a blank look. Even asking for your size is dangerous.

It’s a shame people further from the sharp end in the phone business don’t act the same way. The phone executive will tell you the big things in phones are Blackberry and Apple.

No-one in Eastenders has a Blackberry: Stacy has a Nokia 7373, Ian Beal a Nokia E61 and Sean an effeminate Pebl. No iPhones, Curves or Pearls. Not even consumer friendly pink ones. This is not the prop buyer’s mistake (Ian once had a Nokia 6650, which never shipped in the UK but was the actor’s own phone) it’s a reflection of the real world.

Steve Jobs built a phone for Californians. A very fine phone it is and lots of people like it, but he doesn’t understand, that Nikes outsell Jimmy Choos. At the iPhone launch he said his target of 10 million phones in 2008 wasn’t ambitious; only 1% of the market. He’s moved goalposts to 10 million by the end of 2008 and so absorbed the four million shipped (not sold) in 2007. Rumour is he’s struggling with that and four million is more likely.
The world phone market in 2007 was 1.1bn phones. Let’s assume that 2008 is on a par Apple won’t even reach ½%.

Phone executives don’t realise it’s the mass market doing the selling.
Nokia sells 8 million phones a week. More in a month than RIM has ever sold. Real people don’t have Blackberrys and Apples, they have 1600s. And the really sad thing is that it’s not just the guy behind the counter in Carphone who understands this better than the phone executive, the girl in the shoe shop does too.


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