In my first writeup on Firefox OS and geeksphone I wrote:
It depends very much on Mozilla’s and Telefonica’s ability to execute
I should have added something about their partners’ ability to execute. I tried to buy a geeksphone this morning. It was not a happy experience.
The first problem is the page that lists the phones is built dynamically, and the site is hitting the maximum allowable database connections. The result is this error:
You might argue that this is just the result of high traffic, and it could happen to any busy site. But this is a basic error, and a nasty error message. This sort of detail should never be exposed to the user. If the site is too busy, put up a “sorry, we’re too busy” page. It’s deeply embarrassing for the architects of the mobile web to fall down on the basics of web-based e-commerce. You wouldn’t want your phone’s dialler to give a 404 or 500 error, so why let your shop do it?
When you do get the page to load, you’ll notice those great headline prices – €91 and €149 – have now become €110.11 and €180.29:
This is because the phones were advertised exclusive of taxes the first time around, which was just silly and confusing. Set pricing expectations and then manage them, don’t jump around all over the place. There’s no consistency.
Next, when you finally get a page to load, the “Add to cart” button doesn’t often work. More database errors:
If you do get the phone into your shopping cart, during the checkout process, you’re asked to agree to some terms and conditions of sale. (With some pretty peculiar wording that suggests a hasty translation: I agree to the Terms of Service and will adhere to them unconditionally.)
But good luck if you want to read those terms, as you’ll either get another database connection error…
… or you’ll get a copy of the Terms and Conditions, but in Spanish:
And then it’s on to the payment processing screen…
And finally, if you’re lucky, you’ll get the order confirmation page. Nothing wrong with that? Nothing apart from “ourcustomer support”. Details!
Apparently the problems weren’t too bad, since the Keon is now out of stock. That suggests a number of people were successful, despite the database problems.
I’ve no idea how many Firefox OS devices were available. My order number suggests more than 300 devices have been sold, but I don’t know if that’s Keon and Peak, or just Peak.
I really do wish Mozilla, Telefonica, and Geeksphone well in launching a new device and building the open mobile web ecosystem. But I also wish they’d pay attention to execution. If you want to win at the Game of Phones, you need to get the small things right and have a relentless attention to detail.