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In today’s smartphone market if I say “powerful high end phone” what do you think?

I bet you thought about either the new iPhone or a Samsung, HTC, or LG Android phone. These phones are indeed powerful, high end, premium, and fast and have all the latest features. What else do they have in common? Huge screen sizes. The iPhone 6 is the smallest of the bunch and still usable in one hand however on the Android side it seems that every flagship phone is over 5 inches now. This makes it very difficult for individuals with petite hands to handle these large phones.

Is there a market for the small Android smartphone? I believe so. Per our in class discussion regarding new product opportunities one of the many ways to enter the market place is by “Understanding the customer.” Companies recognize that people want smaller phones so companies make “mini” versions of their flagship phones, this is only done within the Android camp; however, these mini smartphones are underpowered so they are not a flagship any longer. There are many articles online about how there should be more small smartphones for customers that don’t sacrifice power and premium feel.

There is a new phone that was just released called the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact that I believe meets the needs of many consumers in the US market. The phone is small and does not compromise on power or premium feel. I think Sony did a great job with the phone because it fills a gap in the smartphone market. Looking at this situation using a hypothetical QFD approach Sony identified a need for a small no compromise smartphone. Sony filled that need by developing a phone with great battery life, a small form factor and high end specifications. Sony related customer wants (small form, performance) to its product how’s by pairing the phone with a powerful battery, great camera, small size and other premium specifications. Sony looked at the requirements of the phone and tried to find relationships between the firms “how’s” so that they could build a phone consumers want. Sony could pair its energy saving software with a powerful battery for better battery life or use its display (TVs) expertise to develop a low energy vibrant display for the phone. Sony had to make some compromises in order to keep the cost and size within reason so Sony had to develop some customer importance ratings such as small size, screen pixel density, battery life, camera, etc. and rate them. Sony then could evaluate competing products against the Z3 compact and see how it compares. Finally, to complete its QFD analysis Sony would compare the performance of the product to the desirable technical attributes. This would mean testing for battery life, screen quality, camera quality and performance, bendiness, etc. Once Sony determines its phone meets the specifications it desires it can then release it to the public.

Going through this QFD approach for a new ‘standard challenging’ product helped me understand the process greatly and really appreciate the effort that goes into developing a new product and building a QFD house of quality.

What you do you think about the trend in smartphone sizes?

Are you for or against the increasing size of smartphone screens? Why or why not?



Have a Point-and-Shoot Camera? Probably Have a Flip Phone Too.

With the increase in technology, smartphones seem to be getting better and better. Let’s look at the cameras on smartphones for example. The iPhone 5’s camera is 8-megapixels while the new Samsung Galaxy S4’s camera is 13-megapixels. To make it even more convenient for users, these high quality cameras on smartphones also have access to various photo apps to upload and share pictures. These apps are often linked with Facebook, Twitter, and you know the rest of the list. Now with all that being said, are people still purchasing point-and-shoot cameras? Do people even remember what a point-and-shoot camera is? This huge craze with smartphones with all the features they offer makes it seem like point-and-shoot cameras are ancient. With the popular photo app Instagram announcing that their monthly users have passed 100 million, it’s safe to say that people don’t need point-and-shoot cameras anymore.  Although nobody may be thinking about these cameras anymore, the manufacturers have suffered from the neglect.

Olympus Corp., a Japanese camera maker, has caught on to the trend of smartphone cameras and the various photo apps and has decided to drop out of that market. Olympus has decided to eliminate its compact cameras which sell for less than $200. Their camera business suffered a loss in the last fiscal year through March because the market for compact cameras was so small, or even nearing nonexistence. The situation Olympus Corp. is currently in ties in with a topic covered in class: Quality Function Deployment. The first step of QFD is to identify the customer wants. In the age of smartphones, it’s safe to say that consumers want a phone that has numerous features which include a high definition camera. People want more things in one, which makes it more convenient for them. Why carry a phone and a compact camera when you can just carry one smartphone? Remember those annoying and somewhat unfashionable pouches for compact cameras back in the day? The next thing on the list for QFD is identifying how a company’s good will satisfy the customer wants. If people are wanting smartphones with nice cameras that have access to photo apps, compact cameras are clearly not satisfying these customer wants. As you continue down the list for Quality Function Deployment, the last check mark is evaluating competing products. Now for Olympus Corp., do they evaluate themselves compared to camera makers such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. and base these evaluations off which company suffered the least, or do they compare themselves to smartphones?

It seems as if Olympus Corp. is comparing themselves to smartphones which resulted in the elimination of their compact cameras. With their biggest business coming from medical equipment, Olympus has chosen to focus on high-end cameras with interchangeable lenses. Of course medical equipment has a whole different Quality Function Deployment, but that’s another topic. Do you think Olympus is making the right decision by withdrawing from the compact camera market? What do they need to do in order to succeed in the medical equipment market? Will compact cameras eventually be wiped out for good?