Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

The mobile phone wars and the generation gap  §

I read technology reviews all the time, just to keep up on the old hobby.

With the “smartphone revolution” that has been going on for a couple years now (if not longer), I often see people talking past one another, with the pivot of the issue being a quote(s) like the following:

“But the point is that for all the bells and whistles, this device is still a phone, and on that front, device X overtakes device Y.” (Or vice-versa.)

That’s interesting, primarily because it illustrates a generation gap that isn’t likely to go away, a kind of unacknowledged fissure in the marketplace.

All smartphones are not shooting for the same features (or at least shouldn’t be). There are two markets here: (1) smartPHONE, and (2) SMARTphone.

My iPhone, for example, is only slightly a phone. I’ve had it for months now and I can count the number of phone calls I’ve made or taken on my fingers. On the other hand, I continuously browse the web, manage email, send and receive text messages, read books and listen to music, and log into and monitor my bank accounts, spending, and task lists with it.

It is my second computer, my information appliance.

I certainly don’t think of it as my “phone” and frankly I would have still bought the damned thing (and use it as much as I do) if it weren’t at all capable of “phone” calls. Who “phones” anymore, anyway? If I want to talk, I Skype (oh, and of course, my iPhone does have Skype on it).

That’s a very different primary use from that of a different generation or at the very least a different market for whom voice calls remain the social currency du jour and who would absolutely prefer that a greater portion of the resources they’ve invested in a device be put toward high-quality phone service.

My smartphone is the logical extension of my Newton 2100 from a decade ago.

For others, it’s a logical extension of their Panasonic cordless landline from a decade ago.

Those are two radically different need sets, that could be better (or more competitively and cost-effectively) served with a more radical divergence in the marketplace.