I started taking programming classes in 1971, and in 1977 I got caught up in the microcomputer mania. By 1981 I got swept away with the PC revolution and during the 1980s I was quite passionate about BBSes and online computer services like CompuServe and GENIE. And I was wowed when my university got connected to the Internet years before the WWW. I’ve always been an early adopter of any computer gadget, but somehow I’m letting the smartphone mania pass me by. Is this a sign of aging?
At some computer news sites there are more stories about smartphones than computers, and some digital pundits even predict smartphones replacing computers. They sneer that the desktop is just a boring office device. I guess I’m getting old because desktop computers are still as exciting to me as muscle cars were to me in my teens.
I’d love to have a smartphone, but I just can’t justify spending a $1,000 a year to use one. The iPhone 4 is one seductive piece of hardware and if it was only $199 I’d get one in a snap. I can’t stop thinking about getting an iPhone 4 or one of the new Android smartphones – but I keep remembering that I barely use my cell phone, and that I have both an iPod touch and netbook that both go weeks without being used. And my GPS sits at the bottom of a desk drawer, and my three digital cameras seldom get snapped.
I add $50 to my T-Mobile pay-as-you-go phone and I can talk for 6-8 months. Now I might justify paying for a smartphone if I could ditch my house phone, but cell phone service from my home is terrible, for both AT&T and T-Mobile. My wife does have an iPhone. She works and lives out of town and greatly benefits from her smartphone but she practically lives on the damn thing. But Susan is a couple years younger than me and loves Farmville, Facebook and going to live rock concerts. Her favorite band is The Foo Fighters while I enjoy people like Laura Bell Bundy who sings a tamer country rock.
I spend all day at work at my desktop, and all evening at home at my desktop, and my commute is 8 minutes. So I don’t exactly need a powerful smartphone or laptop. But the smartphone mania keeps gnawing at me. They’re like a toy that every cool kid owns, and I don’t.
When I saw the video for the new iPhone 4 at the Apple site I thought the face time video calling was fantastic until I remembered Susan and I bought webcams two years ago for Valentine’s Day and only used them once.
Now I’m not trying to be the Grinch that steals Christmas but is all this smartphone mania some new kind of addiction? I know some people who don’t have home phones, and who don’t have a computer at home, or Internet access, and the smartphone is a great, affordable solution for them. These folks are the kind of people that a smartphone will be their computer, and the ones the pundits were talking about.
And if you’re an on-the-go person that’s already spending a pile of money for cell phone calling and texting, it’s not that much money to add a data plan. I suppose kids and young people who stay constantly in touch with their friends via cell phones can’t imagine living any other way. And that might be the reason why I question all of this. Am I too old to see the necessity of such a wired lifestyle?
Will spending a $1,000 a year for smartphone use just become a necessity of life? And what is that cost for a family with three teenagers? On one hand, I know the smartphone mania is a great boost for the economy, so I shouldn’t complain, but on the other hand, it seems so wasteful. But I guess I’m just an old fogey.
And now the 3D TV mania is starting. HDTV was sexy to me, but 3D TV leaves me limp. I wonder if I need a Viagra for my techno lust? And did I give up cable TV and my two DVR boxes to save money, like I thought, or was it because I’m getting old and couldn’t stand all those channels, like I felt. Now that I think of it, I did sell my Kindle, and I’m actually reading books. Well, I’m not as bad as my friend Lee, he’s returned to listening to LPs. I wonder if that will happen to me too?
JWH – 6/13/10