It seems that every time I go to take out my phone these days I'm reminded that it's archaic (and I only bought it 6 months ago!). It's a Verizon LG and it's far from glamorous. In fact, I like to call it a "dumbphone" to have a sense of humor when communicating with my tech-savvy friends that all have iPhones, blackberries and Google phones. Well, today I learned that perhaps my phone is not as dumb as I thought, and that I'm actually in the majority when it comes to the types of phones consumers own.
As Jenna Wortham of the NY Times points out in a recent article: "Given the craze around the iPhone, Motorola Droid, Palm Pre and Nexus One, it might seem that nearly everyone has a smartphone. But most consumers use simpler, much cheaper phones." What's more, Jenna goes on to explain that there are companies out there that provide a way for "kinda smartphone" (or feature phone) users to get apps on their devices. One such company is GetJar, offers about 60,000 applications, and they are not tied to a single provider or network. I looked up my phone on the Web site, and even I can download their apps. So, my phone is not as dumb as I thought.
But here's the catch: is the market for a "kinda smartphone" app store sustainable, or will smartphone adoption phase it out? I can tell you right now that I'd certainly love an iPhone or Android, but, as Jenna also points out in her article, cost is a deterrent for many consumers. Why invest in a new, more expensive phone when the one I have functions just fine? It doesn't search the internet, but at least I have SMS.
Speaking of which, I also learned today that SMS has a reach of over 3.6 billion subscribers. And, according to the article's author William Dudley, social networks like Twitter will certainly not overshadow SMS. If SMS will remain the most popular means of communication and I can pimp my dumbphone if I want to, maybe I can stick it out for a while longer. Besides, I'd like to see the kinds of phones/technologies that hit the market in the next year -- and see what happens to the costs of the technologies -- before I commit to a smartphone in the near term. So, while I drool over my friend's fancy phones, at least I can take solace in knowing that I can also make my phone fancier if I want to thanks to companies like GetJar.
Contributed by Susan Wise. Follow her @swise.