More and more, I’m seeing people walking around with and using multiple smart phones. Recently, I saw a woman at a restaurant intensely checking three smart phones—a BlackBerry, an iPhone, and a Droid—and an iPad all laid out on her table.
The BlackBerry/iPhone combo is pretty common. The tablet/smart-phone combination is fairly common too. So is this a permanent trend, or just a short-term phenomenon? Whatever it is, it has some interesting implications.
BlackBerry Versus iPhone
First, many people are holding on to their BlackBerries simply because they’re company phones or because they prefer a real keyboard over the touch screen. If you use your phone mostly for e-mail or texting, then the BlackBerry rules. Its keyboard is still the best for accuracy and speed.
I’ve been using iPhones since the first generation back in 2007, and I’m still no good at e-mail and texting on the touch screen. It’s too easy to make mistakes, and the iPhone’s auto-correct function is maddening. I keep my e-mails and text messages short. Forget about speed too, but I have seen some teens go pretty fast.
The BlackBerry, though, needs a larger screen for a better social networking, browsing, gaming, and video experience. Furthermore, it isn’t as “cool” as the iPhone. On the other hand, it’s hard to beat RIM’s secure and fast network. It’s no wonder so many BlackBerries are still out there. I hope RIM will reverse its recent decline.
I suppose the multiple smart-phone movement is motivated at least in part by keeping professional and personal business separate, which makes sense. One downside is the nuisance of managing multiple data plans with different conditions and pricing.
It’s also expensive. Today, more and more people are abandoning their landline service, so that eases the cost. But then you still need multiple chargers, not to mention different phone numbers.
Interestingly, these multi-phone users almost always have a tablet as well, mainly for the larger screen. Or, they have a laptop, ultrabook, or maybe even an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook. It’s almost as if these people are paranoid about being connected, so they double down on their communications devices.
This is good for the industry, of course. With cell-phone saturation already over 100% and smart-phone penetration hitting 60% in some areas, the multi-phone movement is keeping growth alive. And let’s not forget the accompanying increased pressure on the networks to get bigger and faster sooner. There’s fun and profit for all.
So, what will these multi-phone users have to look forward to? A new iPhone seems to be in the works for release later this year, with a larger screen, Long-Term Evolution (LTE), and who knows what else? Other companies are producing new models, with fresh introductions every week.
Samsung’s Galaxy S3 is the hottest product right now, but other models from HTC, Motorola, Nokia, and LG are selling well too. Then there’s the BlackBerry 10, which we may see early next year. China’s giant Huawei also is lurking in the background, looking for an opportunity.
Even Amazon is rumored to be working on a smart phone, which should be interesting. Maybe it’s to counter the potential smaller, cheaper iPad that Apple is probably developing to compete with the successful Fire tablet.
In the meantime, Apple and Samsung/Google are battling over smart-phone patents in the courts. I’m not sure who will win that war. Whatever the outcome, we all will pay more for our phones.
On top of that, accessory makers are sweating out the news that Apple is changing the ubiquitous 30-pin docking/charging connector. I’ve heard that the iPhone 5 will have a 19-pin connector that also will show up in all future Apple mobile products. The implications are massive.
But most of all, I really worry about the addiction-like behavior of smart-phone and tablet users. They are always on, checking e-mail, texting, or surfing on their “CrackBerries.” I’ve seen it everywhere, even while driving. Obsessed users can’t seem to let their devices go even for a few minutes.
Then again, aren’t we all tied to our e-mail, texts, and phone calls? It’s what we do all day, isn’t it? We can’t avoid it. Overall, it’s good news and bad news. The good news is that business is booming and we’re communicating. The bad news is that we’ve become slaves to electronic communications to the detriment of personal connections.