Smartphones overview

Jan 27, 2011 No Comments by

Anyone old enough to remember the advent of the truly mobile phone will likely be quietly gob-smacked at how far we and they have come.  Likewise, when comparing computers of that vintage with the power in your pocket in 2010…. well, there is no comparison.  32 gigabytes of storage; 1GHz processor speed.  In a phone.  It simply boggles all your sentient parts. And while it’s easy to take the speed, dexterity and versatility of today’s smartphones for granted, it’s also worth giving you, the phone user, a round of applause; because nothing happens in smartphone development and innovation that you don’t ultimately demand and pay for.

Forget your phone, lose it, have it stolen and genuine symptoms of panic and/or withdrawal can invade the very core of your being.  Deprive a spawny young person of constant access to Facebook and you’re cutting off an emotional limb.  ‘Keys, money, phone. Keys, money, phone.’  The house-leaving, pocket-patting mantra.

And even though they only entered the phone fray in 2007, it seems that no one has exploited the potential for creating an umbilical attachment to such devices more effectively than Apple.  Why meet meagre needs when you can create and satisfy a fevered, throbbing desire?  It’s like being a child again when Cadbury launches a new chocolate bar.  Yum.  Only this time there’s no need for ‘pester power’; just hand over the cash and it’s yours.

There are dozens of handsets to choose from but as with radio stations, most people tend towards a few.  We are indeed creatures of habit if one of those habits is to follow the leaders and choose what everyone else has chosen.

Smartphones are so-called because they are unfeasibly clever; phone, camera, computer, music player, GPS, gaming device, organiser, social portal.  Add a few hundred apps and your phone will become part of who you are. Eventually you will also find Fogey 5s for Music Phones, Camera Phones and Basic Phones – the latter being the sort of thing you might choose if you’re soooo old-fashioned as to make actual voice calls.  Research suggests that incidences of verbal phone conversations are in decline whereas text, email and instant messaging are on the rise. Voice calls use more precious bandwidth than text and tend therefore to cost more. It’s also much easier to lie by text than by talking.

None of the Fogey 5 is a cheap device.  The contract price plans for each vary slightly among service providers as do the handset (sim-free) prices for those who don’t want to be tied to a contract that may be as long as two years.  There are any number of entry-level smartphones such as the LG Optimus, Nokia 5230 and Samsung Wave, but there’s precious little kudos attached to being a beginner, a greenhorn, a smartphone virgin, or (God forbid) a teenager.

So the Fogey 5 reflects the ‘keeping up with the Jobs’ dynamic.  If Steve and his chums build it, you, the public, will buy it and commit to an expensive, long-term contract.  Because there’s no chance a better handset will arrive during the endless years of that contract is there?  You won’t want to upgrade? You won’t get device envy?  You won’t quietly chew your arm off when iPhone 5th Gen arrives and you still have a year left to run on the contract for your 4th Gen dinosaur?  Don’t be cross; it’s how manufacturers create demand.  We are mere putty in their hands.