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Business Mobile Phones – An Analogy with Formula 1

Business Mobile Phones – An Analogy with Formula 1

On the week of the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2013, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you an old business mobile phone analogy an old colleague and friend Phil Steeples once shared with me.   The analogy compares business mobile phone users and their job roles to car owners.  I think the analogy still works today but in very different way.

The original business mobile phone car analogy

It was back in 2002 when I first heard the analogy and it has stuck with me ever since. Being a marketer by trade segmenting markets based on user needs is useful stuff and back in 2002 there wasn’t much information available on business mobile phone user segmentation.  The only segmentation you could get back then was the size of the company and what industry they were in.

Business Mobile Phones – An Analogy with Formula 1
Business Mobile Phones – An Analogy with Formula 1

The analogy was trying to pigeon hole people against cars and specifically how their job function effected what type of business mobile phone they had or might like to have, as the mobile market was not saturated back then and there was still plenty of people that didn’t have a mobile phone and not everyone in a business had one.  It also started to look at what people were using their mobile phones for.

The average office worker may have a Nokia 5110 which was a competitively priced reliable phone that you could make phone calls on and send texts, you might also catch them travelling to work In a Ford Focus.  The senior managers might have had a high end Nokia like the Nokia 6310i or they may have had a Blackberry 6230 or they may have been lucky enough to have both, you would mainly catch them driving a reliable car like Mercedes-Benz C-Class.  Mobile field workers were a rare bread back then and mainly used PDAs with a Microsoft operating system on it to capture data to send back to the office, they probably would have a phone to make calls on as well.  Field sales people probably wanted the same as the senior managers but had to make do with slightly cheaper models like the Nokia 6310 and a slightly less expensive car like the Lexus 300 (this was actually my favorite car back then).  Now the managing director wanted the latest of everything, PDA, BlackBerry 5810 (The first BlackBerry to include voice and data),  Vodafone data card and business mobile phone and you would often catch him in his Aston Martin at the weekend and probably a Range Rover to work.


The nooks and crooks of it all was that there was plenty of choice from the business mobile manufactures back then and different devices were best suited for particular types of people and their job roles.

What’s changed in the UK Business Mobile Phones market?

What’s changed in the UK Business Mobile Phones market?

Well everything is pretty much the same now, you have a screen in your hand which can make calls, send texts, take pictures, browse the internet, play music and read emails and as a consumer they all pretty much do the same thing.  So how do you draw a car analogy from that when every phone is very similar and can do the same things.

To segment mobile phone users in the consumer world is quite easy, you have your gamers, your photographers, your musicians and your social net workers and different manufactures have slight advantages over others each in particular areas.

You might choose an Apple device because of your allegiance to itunes or a Windows Phone for the xbox games , but all devices pretty much do the same thing.  It’s not so much about the type of device these days but more about the operating system on the device that influences your decision.

The type of operating system has never been more important when choosing a business mobile phone.  Mobile phones are no longer just a phone, they are a smartphone and more like a mini computer than a phone.

Being a Formula 1 fan I was drawn to that to make a modern day tale of the old business mobile phone care analogy.

The Formula 1 business mobile phones car analogy

When buying a business mobile phone these days at lot more needs to be taken into consideration, with all the devices available having very similar screen sizes, camera capabilities, email, calendar and battery life, you could say like the manufacturers in Formula 1 they all have similar specifications.  In Formula 1 other external factors are the main difference between having the right car and winning the championship or the wrong car and coming second.  The driver is very important, the tyres are increasingly becoming a barrier to success and management of the car makes all the difference.

I compare the drivers to a mobile phones operating system, the tyres to what network you put your mobile phone on and the management of the car to the mobile device management system you use to control the use of your devices.

*,** These are purely for example purposes and not what the manufacturers are actually using

You will notice in the chart above that there is no column for tyres, as you will be aware if you are a Formula 1 fan all the tyres are the same, Pirelli are currently the tyre provider for Formula 1.  This makes my analogy a little flat if you pardon the pun.  For the purpose of the analogy please imagine that they all use different makes of tyres and that they symbolise the mobile network operators.

So there you have it the start of a Formula 1 / Business mobile phone analogy but to finish it and for it to make any sense to someone buying a business mobile phone there are a few questions you might what to consider before re-reading the analogy.

  1. What work tasks do your employees do on their mobile devices now?
  2. What work tasks would you like them to do on their mobile devices?
  3. What Office documents does your organisation use?
  4. What operating system do your PC’s and Laptops run on?
  5. What business applications do you use now?
  6. Do you have any plans to create any more business applications?
  7. Do you have plans to make those applications available on mobile devices?

Over the coming weeks I will be writing about how important the choice of mobile operating system is when choosing a business mobile phone.  But if you would like to join in the debate and let us know your thoughts on Business Mobile Phones An Analogy with Formula 1 then please let us know.

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Written by

Stuart Cordingley

Head of Channel at Fusion Mobile - Mobile Phone and Windows Phone specialist helping UK IT Re-sellers with their clients.
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