Does the consumer really need to be 'educated?'

I'm in Malta this week attending an annual international press conference by the IFA, a German association that hosts a large consumer electronics conference, and I'm hoping to hear some enticing tidbits on smartphones and embedded wireless. This morning, though, I was attending one of the panel sessions that focused on consumer electronics projections for the U.S. market when I heard one of the speakers blame a lack of growth in a certain area (not wireless) on that industry's inability to "educate the consumer."

I've heard this same excuse over the course of my career from numerous wireless industry executives. Regardless of whether I was asking about the lack of interest in a certain mobile device or the dearth of consumers purchasing over-the-air music downloads--the response from so many has been to blame it on the uneducated consumer.

But isn't today's consumer smart enough that we shouldn't have to "educate" them on how to use a smartphone or purchase mobile content or download a mobile app? And if they aren't, then perhaps the real answer is that we are making it too complicated--or we have a product, service or device that the consumer doesn't want or need.

I think this phrase "educating the consumer" needs to eliminated from every wireless industry executive's vocabulary. Instead, let's focus on creating products, services and applications that don't require a lesson or a manual. Isn't it time for ease of use to be a priority? --Sue