It’s the year 1990. You’ve recently splurged on your new phone and you just can’t wait for one of your friends to call you. It’s got a mean green LCD screen, soft alpha-numeric keypad, a two-inch antenna, and a long-lasting battery which you’ve already estimated can be passed down…to your grandkids. You sit in the mist of your counterparts at the bar after work with everyone’s phones placed on the table and you all start to argue over whose phone is smarter, and that’s when you realize your phone is desperately trying to hide behind your beer glass. Why? Its intimidated by the competition and you should be too – phones are supposed to be an extension of your personality, aren’t they?
The Nokia 3210, for example, was the must-have phone back in the day. It was a cool tool. What it lacked in colour it made up for in its addictive Snake game. You could leave it in the hands of a hyperactive toddler and be rest assured that it wouldn’t be smashed to pieces after being used as a mallet – it’s that durable…and it weighs a tonne. With over 50 annoying polyphonic ringtones (and the sad option of being able to compose your own ringtone) there was a lot to amuse oneself. However the phone is not exactly a babe magnet nor does it shout ‘Hey! I’m keeping up with technological advancements’. What it does say is ’I think it’s time you got an upgrade because people are giving me funny looks and let’s face it…you’ll never get past level 9 in Snakes’. The absence of a built-in camera is its major setback and it’s not social media-friendly either. But if it’s any consolation it will last you a lifetime!
Fast forward a little and it feels like the transition from black and white to colour television is repeating itself. If you’re a typical Samsung fanatic complete with the Samsung refrigerator, LCD TV, laptop and tablet, then I’m betting a hundred to one that you’ve already got a snazzy, technicolor Samsung phone. What I like about Samsung is it’s over-the-top use of colour to wow its consumers. It’s like having your very own kaleidoscope in the palm of your hand (I guess Samsung decided to take on the ‘rainbow in my pocket’ challenge and actually won!). Sadly I don’t sing the Sam-song.
But while Nokia and Samsung phones tend to keep things simple e.g. Searching through your contacts to make a phone call or composing a text message, Sony Ericsson believe the more complicated a basic function is, the more sophisticated you appear to be (er…try clueless). Sony took the concept of Differentiation and completely turned it over its head…to the detriment of potential phone users. This is No Phone for Old Men – the phone will only amuse and confuse them (unless they’re patient enough to read the bulky manual…and even that is in small print).
Low and behold, the emergence of the smartphone reminds us that we are stupid and that we need a phone that can do all our thinking for us. Today you have phones that come with a QWERTY keypad because the phone manufacturers think some of us are too stupid to use the alpha-numeric keypad any longer. In fact, some of us are also believed to be so lazy that we need touchscreens because keypads are just too much pressure for the fingertips and thumbs. It’s already bad enough that I’ve got one hand occupied with a ‘dullphone’ whilst I’m using the urinal but trying to use two hands on a smartphone will lead to unavoidable spillage, if you know what I mean. It seems virtually all phone manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon, with Blackberry holding fort.
But without deviating much further from the topic, your phone makes a bold statement about you – Phones with no colour and camera would throw you into the Stone Age category; phones with swivel/slide, mp3, video or touch screen technology would throw you into the Techy/Nerdy category; whilst phones that happen to be the latest to hit the market (and are usually expensive and are only changed when another new phone is trending) would put you in the I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-money category. Such people want to be noticed by everyone and would steal any opportunity to flash their nifty gadgets. If it doesn’t spark up conversation then it’s probably your phone not theirs. By the time you’re done talking to them their phone will be all that you remember.
So there you have it – the type of phone you use can tell someone if you’re simple or complex, cool or old school, and whether you’re smart or
dull trying to get smart. My theory isn’t founded, of course, but we’re all making our two-worded judgements (‘show-off!’, ‘smart-alec’ or ‘dumb-ass!’, they’ll decide )