Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Smartphones aren't for everyone

I was thinking about my iPhone the other day and I came to realize that smartphones aren't for everyone. They are for people that:

  1. Are connected and frequently connect with an above average number of people.
  2. Live exciting lives filled with new and interesting activities.
The reason I say point #1 is that if you only have a few people that you talk to often, you should be able to get by with only texting, calling or emailing. Once you become part of a large cluster of connected people, you need tools like Facebook, Twitter and the bevvy of other social networking sites to remain connected to them because chances are, these people are all over these types of communication channels.

I say point #2 because the person who goes to work and goes home every single day isn't really going to need a smartphone. It's not like they don't know where the grocery store is. And if they go out to dinner, which they don't very often, they probably know the restaurants they like to eat at. And they don't take tonnes of pictures because they see the same things and the same people every single day.

Take myself for example. I have a pretty large group of connected people but I haven't broken the 1000 tweet mark yet and I have been on Twitter for almost two years now (March will be two years). I have over 300 friends on Facebook (I read the average person has about 150 or so). I enjoy using my smartphone to access my network of friends and contacts but I could live without it pretty easily, which is what I did for three months earlier this year when my phone broke. I have a cool app on my phone called My Nearest that will show me the nearest of anything I could want but even though I haven't lived in Ottawa since 1995, I know where everything is. Granted I have been saved by the GPS a few times but that's stretching it. Unfortunately, expensive roaming makes using cool apps like My Nearest in distant cities really expensive - which is when you need them most. I think it's funny that the rate plans offered by our mobile companies create a disincentive for us to leverage the full power of the technology.

For some people, smartphones are indispensable and I think that these are the people that generate all of the hype, buzz and whatever else it is about these phones and everyone else buys into it. I just don't think everyone NEEDS a smartphone, yet we are led to believe that we do by this layer of pressure that is put on us by advertising, the media and the people around us.

Smartphones to make lives more convenient and they do come in handy. I just hope that people spend time thinking about why they need one before they jump into one.

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