The ubiquity of phones

There was a time not so long ago that websites and blogs like this one would happily cover all of the latest developments in the PDA and phone worlds. It was exciting and there was always some new development to hang an emotional hat on. Whether it was high resolution screens, stereo sound, more storage or even marvels of technology such as cameras in phones, there was always something that fixed what was not working or which gave us something that was not previously there.

It would be foolish to suggest that phones are perfect today and that there is no scope for innovation or for improvement, but the reality is that phones are ubiquitous and they do what we need them to do without any noticeable problems.

Most people use their phones throughout each day and completely take for granted what they can do. They are not like some of us who marvelled at the Sony Clie, the Psion PDAs and who witnessed mobile technology growing up bit by bit over a couple of decades.

Phones are as exciting as washing machines for most people and they have no interest in ‘phone news’ or new developments. Provided they do what they need them to do they are happy and so that situation will continue for the foreseeable future.

I get that there is a market for creative tips and instructional text on how to get the most out of the latest powerful devices of today, but emotion and excitement are not paramount in any way and apart from the big releases each year from Samsung and Apple, the vast majority simply do not care. They care as much as you and I do about a new tumble dryer being released with a new feature that was not they before. In short, they do not care and this is the big worry for the likes of Apple who must be looking at this and seeing a troubling future.

At some point there either needs to be a correction where a new technology becomes exciting again (smart watches?) or we just settle with small developments and let the renewing of phones become much less frequent and for the industry to be worth a lot less in its entirety.

Categories: Articles, Phones

6 replies

  1. Lately I’ve been musing on something parallel with video games. (Though it’s always tough to discern changes in one’s own preferences – i.e. “I’m just gettin’ old” – fromchanges in the industry and culture.)

    It seems like a lot of the coverage has been moving to youtube – written walkthroughs and FAQs for games seem much thinner on the ground than in years prior. In some way there feels like there’s less fan-engagement, just based on what I see on GameFAQs – plenty of discussion but fewer people sitting down to write a walkthrough. (Maybe the “longplay” is easier to do?)

  2. Don’t know that it will be smartphones or smartwatches, but look around for something just entering the market or something under the radar that’s a bit clunky but sort of useful. Some small team somewhere will make the innovative breakthrough that propel whatever it is to the next level. It just has to be enough to get everyone to sit up and notice. Then it becomes small steps. One giant step followed by many small steps. Sound familiar?

    • You know, in thinking about this, and also the other threads about Watches – it’s kind of startling that the new Apple Watch – with standalone cellular! Has been totally overshadowed by the iPhone X. I mean, for about the first time (I’m sure there might be some other company offering that the haters will say Apple stole from) we have some of this full-on Dick Tracy stuff, completely free to just have this watch that still connects to the world without having to piggyback on the phone in the pocket, and the reaction is pretty meh! Why is that? Are there limitations in terms of the device, like with battery or something, that stop it from really living that dream? Or does the the intermediate form (watch piggybacking) take away some of the pizazz, since a phone in your pocket isn’t that much of a burden anyway?

      • I don’t think Apple made that big a deal about LTE in the new Apple Watch. And they announced the X an hour or so later. Maybe because Dick Tracy had one it’s overlooked. Or maybe people don’t want to be called Dick Tracy. Like flip phones and the Star Trek communicator.

  3. Now it seems more about whether you have iOS or Android. If it is iOS which generation are you on. If it’s Android did you get something mainstream or did you manage a sweet deal of some sort with good specs. Somehow, it seems like I still use my Android connected devices for more than most people. I think we have connected computers in our pockets, which can also make calls. But I wonder if a lot of people think they have a phone in their pockets, which can do some computer stuff.

    • Interesting. I wonder if they’ve done surveys or studies about what people think of their smartphones. Do they think of them as portable phones that do a bunch of other stuff, or as a multi-purpose device where one function is a phone. Do most people even think of smartphones as computers?

      Remember when PDAs first came out? They were considered by lots of people to be fancy organizers.

      Or maybe smartphones have become so ubiquitous that they’ve become an extension of who we are, like iPods and similar devices used to be.

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