Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cell phones - addiction, bane or remedy for modern life?

We are tethered to our cell phones – we leave the house with the “holy trinity” – keys, wallet, cell phone. And if you’re a smartphone user like me, we manage our life through our smartphones by staying organized and plugged in through the calendar, email and text functions. We amuse ourselves with our favourite pics, games and music. When we’re lost we use the navigation function to pinpoint our location and give us directions. Oh yes, and it allows us to stay connected to folks through Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and, let’s not forget, the actual phone. And I haven’t even started on some of the cool apps out there. Where would I be without my iPhone?

It seems, according to a poll conducted by Best Buy Mobile, that I am not alone in my attachment to my mobile phone. “One in three people would prefer to give up TV for their cell phones, 60% say they'd rather give up alcohol for a week than their cell phones, and 37% would rather have a cell phone than an umbrella if caught in a rainstorm. About 15% even say they'd rather have their teeth drilled at the dentist's office than give up their mobile phone for a week”.

What I also found interesting in the poll was that while one in five American adults had a smartphone, everyone else is befuddled by all the choices. The poll, which included 500 men and 500 women, found that of those who plan to buy a smartphone in the next 12 months, 47% say they are too confused to make a decision yet.

The major barriers? More than half -- 53% -- are torn about which brand or model to buy, including 52% of women and 42% of men. And close to 40% of those planning purchases say they have not taken the plunge yet because they hate shopping for electronics, period -- with 45% of women expressing this concern. And 64% of the respondents overall say they think the devices are just too pricey.

Is it any wonder? Buying a phone, especially if you don’t know what model you want can be daunting. Not only do you have to figure what phone to get but then there’s the complexity of the carrier and the plan. Is it better to get your cell phone at Best Buy or go directly to a carrier’s retail store front? Yikes – just thinking about it is dizzying. This spells great opportunity to cell phone companies to simplify the buying process and to continue to amp up the branding/emotional connection. It might also be a great opportunity for an e-commerce entrepreneur to 'amazon' all the phones and plans out there and create a selector process based on lifestyle, features, benefits and pricing to help consumers with the purchase process. (Did I just give away a good idea? ;+)

So what about it? Are cell phones an addiction, bane or remedy for modern life?


  1. I fall into the confused category of smartphone buyers. I am leaning towards the iphone but heard from a friend of a friend that AT&T is the sole provider and rates are outrageously high. Is this a monopoly situation? I thought monopolies were anti-free market?

    Any thoughts from you?

  2. Hi Jess,

    Thanks for stopping by 'the orange'.
    Yes, AT&T are the exclusive carrier of iPhone in the U.S. (Yes - sounds like a monopoly to me!)

    In terms of cost, I'm not sure how much more expensive the iPhone is versus other smartphone plans. They definitely are more expensive than a regular cell phone but then you have internet access to add in.
    Depending on how many phone minutes you use, from my experience you need to calculate somewhere around $100/month.

    I do love my iPhone for both tactile and functional reasons. I used to have a Treo and that was a Trial! It's been years since I've had a Blackberry - so I can't comment on functionality but it just doesn't have the same style or playfulness of the iPhone.

    Hope that helps. Good luck in your search!