Friday, August 27, 2010

phone-evil, pt.2: she don't want no smart-phone?

ahh, the power of double-negatives (and poor grammar). like the double negativity of these 2 posts-as-fists in the face of the evil phone-industrial complex! WHAK! POW! 

phone manufacturers are evil (as explained in two parts) 

PART 2: she don't want no smart-phone? 

smart phones aren't for everyone. i (begrudgingly) get that. though the real icing on the cake was when my mom (and subsequently, my dad) got iPhones last year. i went thru a lot of phases (of grief) to accept this. for the longest time i was upset that they were spending quite a bit of $ (monthly data plans) on something they were hardly going to learn to use, but i eventually got over it. who was i to stop their adoption of new technologies? 

so first, thanks to Steve Jobs - for convincing my parents to hand over their hard-earned money for something they don't need (now i get my dad's objection to me getting Reebok Pumps in 5th grade). 

but this post isn't about my #1 reader (hi mom!), it's about my #0 reader, my fiance...who takes pride in NOT reading my bloog (since it's pretty much a distillation of all the other noise she gets from me on a daily basis =), so we can talk about her all we want here.

my fiance (to protect the innocent, let's simply call her "Katie") needed a new phone. the Motorola KRZR she'd been using for the past 3-4 years was finally breaking down. while i've had a smart-phone of some sort in recent years, she resisted, and i'm OK with that. 

her rationale? her phone was great, and worked fine (a battery that lasted for DAYS - remember that?). beyond that, she rarely texts, and doesn't feel the need to be online 24/7. why bother looking up random internet stuff when i'm always around (not because of my fake-omnipotence/know-it-all nature, but rather the always- on gadget in my pocket)? "Katie" is not too crazy about the Facebook or Twitter, because she recognizes the practical inanity of it all (one of the influencing factors of my "social media blackout" - which is more of a frequent brownout these days). among many other reasons, this practical, no-nonsense nature is why i love her (why she reciprocates still escapes me, but that's another post). 

and let's be clear - Katie's not a luddite. she's gets the interwebs. we chat all day at work, we're both users of the cloud (Google maps, mail, calendar, docs), she's an avid user of TripAdvisor, and she likes to her recipes online (so she can cook with cool is that?). beyond that, she tinkers/takes apart her car + electronics when she has to (probably because her dad's an oldschool car-guy, her 2 older bros are electrical engineers, and i'm useless). oh, AND she's a chemical-freaking-engineer who formulates secret formulas in a lab all day (sadly, she has yet to concoct a concoction that will grant me super powers, though i am still hoping). bottom line?  she's way smarter than you + i mere mortals (and i'm pretty sure she knows kung-fu). 

but i digress. it's time for "Katie" to get a new phone. she still doesn't want a smartphone. she just doesn't see the point. it's just another way to spend money we don't need to. as with the acceptance of my parents unnecessarily wanting one, i've come to grips with the fact that my better half does NOT necessarily want a piece of tech she doesn't need (you should see the running iPod debate in our household). one day i'll convince her otherwise, but that day is not today

so it's time to go phone-shopping in 2010. as you may recall from Part 1, i recently made the smartphone switch from Apple to Google for a # of reasons (and believe you me, i did my research). since the smartphone market has advanced so much in recent years, i would expect just as much, if not more innovation on the lower end of the phone spectrum (no pun intended nerd-readers). at at least a common adherence to good/simple design principles. boy was i ever wrong.

pretty much all non-smartphones are total crap these days. remember the Motorola Razr (the predecessor to Katie's KRZR)? that thing was heralded as THE hallmark in phone design. beyond making calls - it didn't do much. it didn't have to. it was a great looking phone that fulfilled it's primary function. nothing more, nothing less. it was a great phone used by everyone, their mother and Jack Bauer/Michael Westen.  but good phone design was restricted to Moto - there were some solid phones by Nokia and Sony-Ericsson (even Spidey had one). 

fast forward back to today and take a look at again at the non-smartphone market (via the major wireless carriers in the US). they're all non-intuitive clunkers with far too many buttons, bells and whistles - VS simply being excellent at making calls. it is shockingly appalling.

what's the reasoning here? simple. by having an inferior offering in the non-smartphone market, the wireless carriers make smartphones (with their profitable data plans/contracts) more appealing and aspirational to the masses - even though they may not need it.


so on both the high AND low end of the spectrum, i have firmly illustrated why phone manufacturers are evil. 

believe it.


  1. I, like you, work for a big (not evil) corporation. We had a symposium I think in 2005 where the author of "The Innovator's Dilemma" was a guest speaker, and someone in upper management was also there as a speaker. The buzz word at our company to get "Katie" to buy a product she doesn't need is/was "Sweeten the Mix" and the upper manager speech was all about it. Yet "Sweeten the Mix"="The Innovator's Dilemma" and it seemed like I was the only person who noticed the irony (other than the author of the book, who visibly was puzzled by the manager's speech).

    So, you just pointed out that the cell phone market is ripe for disruption. How can I make money from that?

  2. make an awesome sleek "dumb phone" =)


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