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Smartphone memory so huge it takes hours to transfer the human memories

all my photos

via Flickr © hellocatfood (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Many mobile operators could be missing an important trick. As smartphones and tablets get more capacious the sheer amount of data being housed is getting so large that it’s become unfeasible for it all to be transferred from the old phone to the shiny new one, in-store, at the point of sale. In fact it can take hours and when it happens it’s a real customer ‘pain point’.

According to US cloud services provider Synchronoss, carriers that can ease the pain are winning lots of customer brownie points and loyalty. Those that can’t are spoiling what should be one of the few really delightful mobile customer experiences. Instead of skipping out of the shop with a nice new phone and full of love for their carrier, many customers are going home in an extremely bad mood having waited hours for their data to transfer.

Of course customers could solve the problem by ensuring the old phone has been backed up somewhere making it easy to download contents to a new one. But they don’t.

According to Synchronoss, which has completed a study on the matter, there is a large constituency of mobile phone and tablet users who just don’t, won’t or can’t keep on top of any backup regime and don’t know how to transfer data from one thing to another.

“We have stats,” says Ted Woodbery, VP of Product Management and Corporate Marketing at Synchronoss. These reveal that one in three users, he claims, never backup their devices at all and only one in seven use cloud storage exclusively.  

So while the cloud and backup options provided by smartphone platform providers - Apple and Google for Android - are an obvious option for users, anecdotally, says Ted, “we see that a large number of iPhone customers simply ignore iCloud.” Probably because it can be fiddly and annoying.

As a result many customers pitch up at a phone shop to buy or contract for a new  phone and the only copy of all their photos, videos, apps and settings are on the phone. Without assistance many have little hope of getting all that data safely transferred to a new device.  

Of course Synchronoss has a dog in this fight, being a leading provider of smartphone cloud backup solutions for service providers. It already has both large US telcos, Verizon and AT&T in the fold. It would like more, of course, and it sees scope for many carriers who already offer backup and synchronisation services to do more and concentrate on the ‘transfer moment’ as a key touch-point. With larger phone memories holding more and more human ones, the problem is getting worse.

“We’re actually seeing, anecdotally, people panicking at the prospect of spending two hours transferring data over to the new phone,” Ted told me. “They may have kids with them or they need to get back to work and they will, ad hoc and in the store, start deleting images off the phone: which is horrifying.  This is your life recording and people are making the decision to free things up in hurry in order to get the transfer time down.”

So the opportunity for carriers is to be (and be seen as) the handholding problem solver when it comes to that fraught moment when the old phone has to be ditched and a new phone brought into service.  While the tech savvy, and often online phone-buyers don’t have a problem, large tranches of the mobile-owning public do.

According to findings based on an independent survey and on Synchronoss’ own proprietary data, 33.3 million devices were recently sold over the holiday season throughout the US, 19.6 million of them in-store. A full 23 per cent of Americans ask in-store sales reps to transfer their personal content for them. Given that it takes approximately 60 minutes to transfer 10.8GB of data via Wi-Fi in-store, 4.5 million hours will have been lost by consumers waiting for their new smartphones and sales reps performing this mundane task.

“The question for the carriers is: ‘Do you want to take ownership of the situation and create a very fast and pleasurable retail experience by arranging for the customer to use the cloud to keep his/her phone backed up?” asks Ted.  

Answers can be found, as they always can be at this time of year, at Mobile World Congress next month where Synchronoss will be holding court.

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