The statistics are climbing like a jet on takeoff. A digital storm has set in and shows no sign of weakening. If you’ve yet to catch the wave (or get swept up in the surf), don’t worry. You probably will before long.
They are called “smartphones.” Part cellular communications, part internet browser, part camera and recorder—more than half the adults in the United States already carry this craze in technology. And the other half (like me) are probably thinking about it.
The pull is getting stronger all the time.
I’m not talking to Generations Y or Z here. They were born into the computerized world and have no trouble adopting new technology—they don’t fight it; they crave it.
Generation X and the Boomers, though, they’re not so sure about being tied to a little handheld device that itches in the pocket like a new $100 bill. After all, those who were working for companies that demanded they keep in touch with email via a personal data assistant (PDA) when the first wave of the smartphone revolution hit, were quick to name the thing a “Crackberry.” Once you get it, you have to have it.
Bounce ahead ten years, and smartphone usage has spread like kudzu. And there is more reason now than ever before to join the parade.
Smartphones are making more sense all the time.
The last straw
Personally, I don’t play video games and I seldom send text messages. And when I do, I’m probably trying to reach one of my children who couldn’t be found via email or telephone. I much prefer accessing the internet from my standard-sized computer, and I still use a note pad and pen for taking most notes. I am not lost without a global positioning satellite (GPS). If I need to know where I am, I either look for a street sign or consult a map. And I hate talking on the telephone, no matter what kind of device I’m holding.
I have never been a likely candidate for the smartphone.
Until last week.
I was shopping for a new printer. Like 75% of my peers (say the statistics), I armed myself with a half-hour of internet review to get an idea of which products might best fit my need, which brands and models were best-rated and about how much I should expect to pay. I took a few notes, ran a search for coupons and discounts, then headed to the store. I was feeling pretty high tech. I even took my son along, so he could see how wise consumers make decisions.
Then, it happened.
A printer I hadn’t come across in my research was staring at me from a display stand. According to the price tag, it was marked down over 50% from the standard retail price. It appeared to have every feature I wanted—and more. Could it be true? Had I stumbled onto the perfect buy?
While I stood there pondering the situation, wondering whether I should drive home and review that particular model so I could have more than in-store advertising on which to base my purchase, a thirty-something woman walked up. She pulled out her smartphone, held it up to the barcode, smiled and put the box in her shopping cart.
I just stood there, watching her walk away. My son tugged at my arm and said, “Hey Dad, she used that Google Shopper app I was telling you about.”
A sad (or happy) ending
“Hello sir,” said the sales clerk, walking up to me. “May I help you?”
“Are those printers really a pretty good buy?”
“You bet. I’ve never seen that model sell so low. There’s an upgrade coming out, so we have to make room for new stock.”
“Do you have any more of them in the back? A lady just took the last unit off the display.”
“Nope. Sorry. They were all out here. That was the last one. The new model has even more bells and whistles, but the price will be about double what these were.”
My mouth dropped open like a fish out of water, and my mind began to ramble back through a thousand other poorly orchestrated purchase decisions from the bleary past.
The clerk looked at me quizzically, then began to walk away.
“Hey!” I yelled after him. “Can you tell me about the smartphones?”