Feature Article

March 27, 2017

Why Hardware isn't Always to Blame when Smartphones Fail.

By Special Guest
Thomas Rayas, Senior Vice President Marketing & Customer Success, FutureDial

We have recently seen a significant shortening of the overall product lifecycle for mobile devices. Massive production runs, the proliferation of high speed mobile networks on a global scale, and an acceleration in technical capabilities have all contributed to products being updated more often. 

We’re also starting to see multiple versions of mobile devices with different form factors, various storage capacity options and even different fireware versions for individual network carriers. For example, it is expected that Apple will release a new iPhone model every year. We’re simply seeing more and more devices enter the marketplace each year. This is proven by the fact that FutureDial processed more than 30 million smartphones in 2016, covering 3,000 different models with an estimated value of $6 billion. 

IT personnel require a degree of expertise across an increasing array of devices, operating systems and applications. This can be unrealistic, so increasingly, enterprise customers outsource this function. The benefits of this can include employing seamless data integration services for every mobile device within an organization and customizing it to fit operations. Companies can also automatically and remotely monitor the condition of each device being used and flag issues in a timely fashion. But simple hardware failure is not the only reason that smartphones don’t perform as they should. Let’s look at other common non-hardware issues that should be checked out if a hardware failure is not obvious. 

Mobile technology is continually evolving. As a result, operating system updates are not always compatible with older or legacy devices. This can be problematic and affect functionality and productivity. As a fix, manufacturers will often release updates following a major release, applicable for older devices. These releases can sometimes cause subtle issues that may seem hardware related. 

In the same way that computers have performance limits in terms of RAM, mobile devices suffer when software and applications, when coupled with newer OS releases, result in system resource conflicts. This creates what can seem like a hardware failure. For example, the device’s touchscreen locking up or the smartphone’s volume freezing as if buttons stopped working/responding. These issues can occur when two or more apps are conflicting with each other, creating a perfect storm that can seem like a hardware issue. 

Often, software and/or application issues are resolved post-return through a factory reset, resulting in a costly ‘No Trouble Found’ (NTF) classification. Part of the reason for the costs associated with an NTF classification is in the reverse logistics supply chain flow. When a device (or any product for that matter) is returned, that is costly to the retailer as well as to the manufacturer because of the logistics and handling of the returned product.  

In addition, the original customer who returned the device also needs a replacement unit and many times it is a new or ‘like new’ replacement. If a ‘like new’ unit is used, then there is a cost to get that product into a ‘like new’ and certified condition. These costs include cosmetic cleanups (a new bezel or glass, for example), brand new packaging, shipping and handling, plus the added labor costs. Studies have shown that the cost for just handling and shipping/returning a returned device is around $50. This does not include the added cost of the new replacement or the negative customer experience. 

When we take all these factors into account – the logistics, time, effort, money, the new device replacement – they put an unnecessary burden on the supply chain. It’s no surprise that the issue is a billion-dollar issue within the reverse logistics market.  

The customer/device user is going to want to install whatever apps they believe they need on their device. So, although recommending that they don’t put apps on a device is what an IT department would like, it’s not practical. People do not want to carry two devices. 

Running diagnostics software on a somewhat regular basis (once a month) is one way to identify potential problems on a device. So is running a diagnostics app when they are experiencing issues. Also, paying close attention to the last software change that preceded unexpected behavior from a device could indicate that the culprit is software related.  

A more specific solution, such as FutureDial’s NTF Investigator, enables customers to mitigate NTF device returns. This technology helps determine the source of problems with devices. As a cloud-based AI-driven solution, it provides a platform for customer care representatives and offsite technicians to resolve mobile device issues and ultimately deflect any potential return of No Trouble Found devices.   

About the Author

A seasoned professional, Thomas has over 25 years of experience in the technology industry. He has played integral roles for startups, mid-stage and fortune 500 companies while holding key positions in sales, business development, product marketing, and systems engineering. Thomas has developed strong alliances and business relationships with top tier organizations such as Asurion, Assurant, Brightstar, Sprint-Nextel, and Verizon Wireless. Prior to FutureDial, Mr. Rayas was a Vice President at Axis Market Solutions, a Director at Amnis Systems managing strategic alliances, and was head of Sales in the Asia/Pacific region for Optivision, Inc. He received a BS in Business Marketing from the University of Phoenix and holds an Information Systems degree from De Anza College.




Edited by Alicia Young


comments powered by Disqus

FOLLOW MobilityTechzone

Subscribe to MobilityTechzone eNews

MobilityTechzone eNews delivers the latest news impacting technology in the Wireless industry each week. Sign up to receive FREE breaking news today!
FREE eNewsletter