Confessions of an iPhone Holdout

By Ted Janusz | Small Business

Do you own a smartphone?

According to The Pew Research Center, 56% of American adults do.  In fact, more people in this country now have and use a smartphone than the 95 million who have just a “feature” mobile phone (a talk and text device).

But you may be more like me.  Oh, it wasn’t that I didn’t want a smartphone.  I just couldn’t understand why someone might want to camp out overnight just to be among the first to part with hundreds of dollars to get the latest version of a new device.  After all, it was still just a . . . phone.

But about a year ago, my daughter came to me with a problem.  She had placed her cell phone in the empty cup holder of her car, as she always does.  At least, she thought it was empty.  In reality, a cup she had recently placed in and removed from that holder had a whole in its bottom. Chelsea had subsequently placing her phone into a dark, wet black hole. She didn’t realize this until she removed the dripping wet phone from its place about an hour later.

So we made a trip to the local cellular phone store.  “Place the phone in a bag of rice,” the representative there instructed us.  “After a week, the rice should completely extract the moisture from the phone.”

And that’s exactly what happened.  But while we were in the store, I had noticed an intriguing offer for an iPhone 4, for 99 cents.  Curious, I asked about the deal.  Apparently, since the introduction of the iPhone 5, there had not been much interest in the previous model, so the store was looking to move out the earlier generation’s inventory at quite a discounted price.

For less than a dollar (plus a $36 activation fee), it seemed to be a good time to upgrade from my feature phone.  And when my new iPhone arrived in its sleek and distinctive box I began to understand some of the hysteria for this revolutionary tool.

The iPhone may have come with an instruction manual in that box.  I really didn’t know for sure because I quickly discovered the use of the phone and its plethora of other features was so intuitive.

Here finally was an IT device that was designed by IT people, but not for other IT people. 

Instead, the iPhone was designed for the rest of us.

I compared my new iPhone with the recent upgrade on my computer to Microsoft Office 2010.  Sure, the new software could do a lot more than the previous versions, but the price to be paid was an increase in complexity.  I needed to unlearn the old familiar Office menus and learn something new called a ribbon bar.  Apparently, IT people just love complexity.

On the other hand, an iPhone is simple and works pretty much like you think it should.   (And you know how much we guys love to stop and look up or ask for directions!)

Maybe that is why comScore’s data shows Apple making a gain in market share.  Apple now accounts for a record 39.2% of all U.S. smartphones.  And maybe that is why people line up to get the latest Apple product, while nearly no one brags about or clamors for the latest software release from Microsoft.  This techie-first thinking could also explain why, unlike Apple, Microsoft has not had a breakthrough product (other than the recent release of the Xbox One) in over a decade.

I asked the store representative, “But what about an Android phone?” 

Android, of course, is the most popular platform with a 52% market share.

Her explanation: “Androids are for the technically savvy, iPhones are for the rest of us.”

Her point was reinforced the evening my granddaughter was born.  My son-in-law’s mother, with her Android phone, was running around the maternity waiting room asking, “Do you know how I can use the camera on my new phone?”

Meanwhile, with the push of just three buttons, I was already busy shooting video of our new arrival on my iPhone.  And, with the push of another button, I was sending that footage to my sisters and female friends.  Before the new grandmother could even get an adequate answer to her question, I was already receiving back responses of “oohs” and “aahs” from the recipients of my videos.

I thought back to a visit to my grandmother’s house in my childhood.  On a small table near the steps sat a corded, black, metal rotary telephone that weighed about as much as a bowling ball.  On a particular visit to my grandmother’s house, my uncle gave me my favorite childhood possession – a transistor radio.  As my finger now hit a button on the display screen of my iPhone, which activated an “app” or application, suddenly I was listening to Monday Night Football on a radio station from Toronto.  And I realized how those two seemingly disparate devices, a phone and a radio, had miraculously been merged together in my easy-to-use iPhone.  (In fact, Steve Job’s initial choice of name for his revolutionary device was supposedly the “TriPod.”)

What kind of device do you think my granddaughter might be holding in her hands 40 years from now?

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