It looks like the HTC Bliss, an Android phone targeting women, is real. This isn’t new news; reports on the Bliss leaked in May, but it was so hard to believe that such a phone would exist. Why make a phone targeted toward women? Go ahead and get your groaning out now.
The phone’s supposed to hit Verizon stores next month, and the technical specs are mostly nothing spectacular. It’ll run Gingerbread (Android 2.3.4) out of the box, so at least everyone involved had enough sense to do that. It also has HTC Sense’s latest version, the interface that you see on HTC phones. Besides that, this phone isn’t a standout device, probably because the makers are working under the assumption that women don’t want a powerful device.
But it gets better. Or worse. If you use Verizon you’re probably familiar with all the extra apps Verizon loads on the phone. Scrolling through mine I see Blockbuster (what?), Verizon Apps, City ID, Lets (sic) Golf 2, NFL Mobile, NFS Shift, V Cast Music, V Cast Videos, and VZW Navigator. There are some useful ones (my phone came preloaded with Youtube, Amazon Kindle and MP3, and Slacker radio, among others), but the bloatware is irksome. According to the mockups that have been going around, the Bliss is to come with apps for calorie counting and shopping. You know, because every woman cares about those things.
So what do women care about? Let’s use my sample size of one and extrapolate from there. So far the apps I have installed on my phone myself include:
Andoku, Angry Birds, Barcode Scanner, Delicious, Dictionary, Dolphin Browser (tabbed browsing! gestures!), Droid Light, Dropbox, Dropwords, Facebook, F5 (Reddit), Goodreads, Google Docs, Google Goggles, Google Reader, Google Sky Map, Google Translate, Google Voice, Google+, Hacker’s Keyboard (for when I need a full keyboard), Irssi Connectbot (one of those times a full keyboard is nice, also one of my favorite things since well, ever), Jewels (Bejeweled), Jota Text Editor (the best one I’ve found if you’re looking for one; it can handle documents of up to a million characters, so one could write a book with it), Last.fm, Light Flow, LiveJournal, Lookout, Pandora, Seesmic, Smooth Calendar, Soundhound, Translate, Where’s My Droid, WordPress, Word Weasel (if you don’t have this, get it. Each round lasts only 50 seconds and there’s a scoreboard)
Do you see any calorie counting apps on there? Or any shopping apps? Well, I guess the barcode scanning and Goggles apps could sort of count as shopping. But besides that, no way.
We can extend this sample size to two and include my mom, who isn’t as tech-savvy as I am but also has a fairly powerful smartphone. I know she has Angry Birds and Jewels on there, the latter being my fault, along with Facebook and several more games. I don’t know what else she has on there, but I’m pretty sure she’s not counting calories on the thing.
Here’s the fundamental problem. These phones will not be pushed on guys. They are already viewed as a woman’s phone. And there will never be a guy-specific phone because being good with technology is viewed as a masculine thing. These so-called girly phones don’t meet my needs, nor the needs of any of the women I know, in the slightest. If you want a less powerful phone, cool. Get one. But if I were in the Verizon store and the salesperson (usually male, at least in the stores I’ve been in) started talking to me about that device because of my gender, I’d tell him where to shove it. And then talk to him about the development community.