Monday, May 21, 2012

Confessions of a Smartphone User

In the rush to release the biggest baddest smartphone ever, Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, and others have brought us complexity that is unmatched in the history of technology.  I can now do things with a handheld device that I never would have dreamed possible.  The obvious goal is to have TV and movies in the palm of our hands anywhere we may be and any time of the day or night.

Now, I am reminded of that Christmas nearly 20 years ago when my wife just had to have one of those cool, handheld Casio TVs that were all the rage that year.  You might argue that there wasn't much relevant content available then.  But I would counter with the problem that the screen was so small that the content really didn't matter.  It just wasn't the same as watching TV on the 25" (in those days).  But this example only illuminates one minor aspect of the issue.

Over the weekend, I finally got so fed up with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus that my kids got me for Christmas that I took the time to walk into Verizon to explore my options.  The clerk at the counter, although courteous, was of no help.  My complaints about the battery life, the dimming screen, the voice mail authentication that only worked with the volume turned down, were met with "we'll gladly ship you a new phone".  As if another copy of the same, complex, flawed piece of technology would make the problem better.

And then there was the follow-up call to Verizon Central who courteously (again) offered to send me a refurbished Motorola  Razr - not the Maxx mind you - but one of the thousands of returned Razrs that the Maxx replaced with needed additional battery life.  The beat goes on.

Its just too much technology trying to provide too many features for too many different needs at once.

Not that all these problems can't be solved!  I'm just curious why one of more of these same vendors don't realize that there may be a market for devices that are designed and marketed the same way automobiles have been for years.  You know, a stripped down model for those who don't care about 0-60 under 5 seconds flat, or 3G is just fine for my occasional small screen browser use. 

This user really doesn't care if last weeks "Dancing with the Stars" episode is available on my Smartphone for viewing whenever and wherever.  It also doesn't really matter whether the phone has an HDMI cable so I can plug it into my 60" living room TV to watch it.  This consumer just wants a few simple things, to begin with.  A reliable phone that stays on at least until I'm home from work in the early evening; that allows me to make and receive a reasonable number of calls every day;  that allows me to send and receive a reasonable number of messages of different types each day; that gives me a reasonable number (not all) of applications features.  Then if I want a GPS or an HDMI video recorder I can upgrade or choose to purchase a different device.

Just for giggles, check out my friends at Real Phone Corporation.  They offer a waterproof voice activated phone the size of a couple of credit cards for use in situations where you don't want to risk your $600 Android or iPhone.

I want the frenzy to slow down a bit to catch up with those of us who still believe that less is more and who can't afford every new device that hits the shelves each year.

Stay Tuned!
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