Putting cell phones to the test

October 28, 2009: 6:00 AM ET

Device testing needs to drastically improve or carriers and manufacturers face big risks to their reputations.

By Abhijit Kabra, senior executive, Accenture


Kabra: How well has your mobile device been tested? Photo: Accenture

Cell phones have come a long way in the last five years: We can surf the web, listen to music, watch TV, and make payments on our phones. So why is the process of testing these devices stuck in the 1990s?

Leading mobile handset makers around the world spend millions of dollars testing these products from the onset of product development until they deliver them to market.  Yet according to a new Accenture survey of executives from the electronics and high-tech industries, 88 percent of respondents revealed that they do not do a good job of testing these handsets.

It's disappointing and surprising that so many manufacturers are lax in their testing approaches. Testing may seem like a straightforward exercise. But without stringent testing of these phones, the entire mobile ecosystem—from manufacturers to wireless carriers to retailers—risk putting out poor quality products that dissatisfy consumers, lower sales, and damage corporate brands.

Given this predicament, manufacturers are under mounting pressure to revamp their testing methods. And they should, particularly during these tough economic times when cost savings and process improvements are so crucial.

The goal to revamp should be systemic, aimed at creating a new, well-coordinated and compre­hensive testing strategy—the opposite of a piecemeal and incomplete approach. This new, more consistent and industrialized method, will reduce product development costs, deliver expected quality levels faster, and defend brand reputations. More

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