Thursday, March 28, 2013

Will it trend? Remote opportunities. Flagship smartphones could need to morph into super smart TV remote controls on demand.

KEY MOBILE TRENDS: home, content, smart TV

Attention handset product managers and portfolio planners! Are you looking for the next must-have feature to stuff into your spanking new flagship smartphone? Well then, don't look forward, but rather, take a look back to some golden oldie consumer research from last century.

I remember in the '90s reading surveys of features people most desired in their handsets. Rather consistently --and perhaps somewhat facetiously-- at number one on these lists was not an embedded camera or touch screen supporting advanced browsing features. Nope. What people said they wanted most was an embedded bottle opener. I suppose the best bottle opener in the world is the one you have with you at the moment.

And next up on the list of requested features was an embedded television remote control.

It seemed a bit odd to me to replace a $1 device or a $5 device with a $500 device. Why wear down one of your most important and personal possessions to open a bottle of beer and/or do some channel surfing.

The bottle-opener concept didn't catch on, but now it looks like the smart TV remote control might just trend. I must admit that the use cases here do look compelling (please see the demo video below).

To be compatible with the current installed user base of television sets, this will require infrared. Rather retro indeed. (Some cable operators do offer dedicated smartphone apps which use data via WiFi to control programming and Microsoft's Xbox SmartGlass looks smooth as silk.)

Samsung starting putting the infra TV remote feature into their Galaxy Note phablets and now the feature has been added on their flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S 4. And HTC also added a built-in remote to their recently-released HTC One.

I don't know what an infrared blaster would add to bill of materials of a smartphone. I would think not much. Anyway, this is the type of finesse which makes for a great in-shop demo. Which smartphone vendor will be next? Sony, Nokia, ZTE, others: are you ready to work remotely?

Please remember: three makes trend, so stay tuned.

HTC's One as a infrared-based controller:

Related: Microsoft SmartGlass. Not an infra remote, but a nice control:

And then there's this...

Photo via Pocket Lint

For those looking to network with Chinese mobile players and understand the market: the kind producers of the Global Mobile Internet Conference 2013 and the extended "G-Trip" contacted me to share a 25% discount code with any readers who might wish to attend. You can register your attendance at and paste in the following code into the "discount code" section: GMIC-VQ9596MT

GWIC 2013. Be there. And see Tiananmen Square.

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