(See below for update)
I have an older smartphone that is about due for replacement. It’s a Samsung Omnia, a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone that I have had for almost 3 years. Before that I had always had a “standard” cell phone and I also carried around a Pocket PC for notes and such. I’ve gone through 4 different Pocket PCs over the years, starting with a Compaq Aero 1500 running Windows CE 3.0 through to a Toshiba e830 running Windows Mobile 2003SE, and over that time I have built up a library of software that I’ve transferred from device to device all the way up to the Omnia, simply because the software was useful (in at least one case I would go so far as to call it “critical”) for me in my work.
I like the Omnia, but there are some limitations due to the form factor (it’s a little smaller than is always practical for a touch screen), the OS (WM6.1 is 3 years old and has some quirks), and the age of the hardware (the battery is nearing the end of life). And now I have a dilemma.
We’re a “microsoft shop” and I have been using Microsoft-powered handhelds for a decade, so you could say that I have some loyalty to the OS. But Windows Phone 7 (and beyond) doesn’t support the software that I have grown to rely on. Which means that I don’t have a compelling reason to look at only the Windows Phone. In fact, an equivalent piece of software for the one critical application that I use on the Omnia is available in the Android marketplace and is not available in the Windows Marketplace, so I now have a reason to consider Android. And there is even a migration path. The app on the Omnia can share the data files with an application that I have on my desktop computer, and the Android app will also share data with the desktop software, so I can actually migrate the data from one device to the other with just a little bit of fiddling about.
So, what does this teach us?
- In this business, like so many others, there are always options.
- If you change the environement enough, your customers will find that an alternate is not as painful as they thought.
- Brand loyalty can only go so far. If you want to have your customers remain loyal to you, you have to remain loyal to them (which means that you don’t abandon them – you always give them a way to move forward with you).
These are (hard) lessons that we learned a long time ago. What it means for us is that we always know that we’re not the only game in town. It means that even though we roll out over 300 fixes and enhancements every 4 months, we try to do it without disrupting existing workflows. It means that, if the solution can be created by extending an existing module or function, that we try to implement that new solution without breaking what already works. It means that if the solution requires a change to the underlying data model, that we provide an automatic method to upgrade your existing version of the data to the new model. It means that we anticipate the problems that the solution may create, and plan the mitigation before we release the solution. We’re not always successful in this, but we have a better record today than we have had in the past. And we’ll be better tomorrow than we are today.
We don’t take our clients, or our success for granted. We work every day to provide the best solutions for our clients. And it means that even if we’re not always successful in this, our goal is to be better tomorrow than we are today. And we’ll always work to ensure that you do have a way to move your data into the new version with as little fuss as possible.
Updated Dec 12, 2011
Well, I made my decision yesterday. Here is my new phone: