Why are we spending so much on our phones?

I recently bought a second mobile phone in order to have an unlocked handset whilst abroad. My primary phone is an iPhone, which I chose because it has an excellent camera (including HD in slow motion). However, I’ve always wanted to try out one of the Chinese brands which cost a 6th of the price of the major branded phones – just to see if it works.

So I took the gamble and bought a Leagoo Lead 2, costing just £80, fulfilled by Amazon (there, some guarantee if things go wrong). It’s only been a few days but, [not] to my surprise, the phone is stunning. An elegantly designed phone that comes loaded with useful apps, no bloatware, the screen is beautiful and it is pretty responsive. Even the battery life is at least comparable and potentially far superior than the iPhone, despite having a much larger screen. Plus, I get to use some of my favourite exclusively Android apps once again.

All of this gets me thinking. Why are we paying so much for our phones? How are the big brands getting away with selling the vast majority of the Western market phones that cost between three to seven times the price of phones of similar values?

There’s obviously a big gap in the market in terms of importers, retailers, reviewers – that’s a shoutout to anyone in the mobile phone industry.

But more broadly, for me this highlights two distinct problems with the consumer markets and the role of producers and service providers within it. One part of the problems is the way branding rather than the effectiveness of the product plays such a key role in the minds of consumers. The result is that we have a distorted perception of value, and it is easy for us to be manipulated by brands that have huge marketing budgets and clever marketers. Another part of the problem seems to be the way the communication between regional consumer markets is highly sectioned. Even if half of the population of China were celebrating the advantages of a specific phone handset, us buggers – sitting at our computers in Europe would hardly hear about it. And vice versa.

As a result we are all losers, and end up spending much more than we need to.

But it does not have to be this way.

In fact, these are two problems we are trying to solve here at Humanity Online. In our view, products are here to solve problems that experience as individuals and as communities. At least, that’s how they should be seen. At Humanity Online we want to make it really simple for the consumer market, the producers and service providers to come together as a community – locally, regionally and globally – to identify goals in a measurable way. Once this has happened, it’ll be rather easy, using our technology, to link up products to the goal of the solution. We will be able to see, for example, that product A is meeting market expectations in terms of providing effective solutions, quality design and a competitive price, whilst product B only meets price expectations but has a rubbish design and is unreliable with some of its solutions.

This can offer a broadly different approach to marketing, because marketing will focus on connecting with the consumer and even working together with the consumer in a far more tangible, proactive and collaborative way.

At the same time, we will no longer be estranged from feedback coming from consumer markets in other global regions. Instead, we will be able to engage with markets as local as our neighbourhood, and as global as the whole world.

Why are we spending so much on our phones?