The sad story of the LG Viewty – case study in Web 2.0 failure

The LG Viewty (KU990) is a decent camera phone which came out last year in the wake of the first iPhone; yes it is me-too product but it has a few advantages over Apple’s product, like an 5 MP camera.

The trouble is, there are niggles, some minor, some major – like video recordings losing sound. A little over six months on, and users are posting messages like this:

I have to admit that I hate this phone. I have had mine six months now and I have regretted it for some time. It’s unresponsive, the camera is poor most of the time, it’s really awkward to use. It’s very slow at taking photos. It can’t hold a signal. The battery life is getting poor. It won’t handle many music file types very well. It feels like a Beta phone. The support from LG is non existent. I’m so disappointed. I look at apple, and yes, people did have to fork out for their phones, but look at the level of support and development they’re getting – new stuff is being added all of the time. It almost feels like they built this phone as a test for some of the features to go into other products.
The best thing about this phone is the video, and I love that part of it. I have some real magic moments captured and I’m grateful. But that is it.
I speak for myself, but I will never get another LG phone, period. As soon as I can get bought out of my contract the better.

It is a big change in mood from when the Viewty was released. This huge thread on the What Mobile forum has the story. Early adopters loved it – except for a few niggles which they hoped and expected would be fixed by a firmware update.

There has been no firmware update. Presumably all the software folk at LG have moved on to the next shiny device. Viewty users feel abandoned.

This seems like a good case study about not getting Web 2.0. Ironically LG made an effort to exploit social networking when the Viewty was launched. LG contacted bloggers and and offered phones for review; I reviewed it here. There is an official LG UK Blog – which sadly is pure marketing fluff and has done nothing to engage with the community over the issues which have been raised. There is an official Viewty website that has lots of Flash multimedia but little substance.

Yesterday I wrote about purchase decisions that begin with a Google search. Mobile phones are a good example. Anyone who does their Web homework will be put off the Viewty; and indeed deterred from newer LG models because the same thing will likely happen again. Network effects work both ways; even those who do not live on the Web will be influenced by opinion-formers who do.

It seems to me that a relatively small investment in communication and post-release software update and support would yield significant improvement in sales.

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1 comment to The sad story of the LG Viewty – case study in Web 2.0 failure

  • This is what kills me about everyone that bashes the iPhone. Sure, the camera is only 2MP. And it doesn’t do video, and it doesn’t accept MMS messages. Those things suck. But everything my iPhone’s supposed to do, it does extremely well. The interface is a joy to work with, even when it occasionally hiccups. The browser is absolutely the best mobile browser currently in existance. The email client is serviceable if you have very low expectations, which luckily I do. I’m not saying that someone won’t come around and out-iPhone the iPhone, but usability is king, and right now the iPhone wears the crown.