Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Do We Still Call It A "Phone"?

You can place and receive telephone calls with them, but if that’s all your cell phone does, you’re in the dark ages. Or so it would seem, based on a new worldwide survey of 8,000 cell phone users by the hugely respected marketing firm Synovate.

There’s no question Americans are attached to their cell phones. 82% of the Americans surveyed said they never leave their home without their cell phone. Nearly half of the Americans surveyed say “they cannot live” without their cell phone.

And you thought the microwave oven was hot stuff.

The Synovate survey says these small devices are so widespread that as of last year, more people on the planet owned cell phones than did not. And, in a lesson for marketers, the survey says most people do not think of their cell phone as a media platform at all. They classify it differently from mainstream media like TV, radio, even the internet.

So much for the FM radio app for the iPhone. It’s not radio’s savior.

Even a basic cell phone these days is a lot more than just a phone. Two-thirds of the cell phone owners on the planet use it as an alarm clock, and more than half of the Americans surveyed said they regularly used their cell phone as a wake-up alarm. Two-thirds of cell phone users worldwide us it as a camera, and about a third play games on their cell phone.

And we’re not talking here about really smart cell phones, which have things like GPS, apps that help you surf the web, read and send e-mail, and even update your Facebook status or Tweet on the fly.

We haven’t even mentioned text messaging, another thing the “basic” (dumb) cell phone can do. Almost three BILLION text messages are sent every day, and it’s proved to be a real financial banquet for the wireless industry. From basic communication, to flirting, even to dumping a partner is done by text now. (Thankfully, only 4% of Americans say they’ve dumped somebody by text.)

A third of the people worldwide admit they’ve lied about their whereabouts via text message. Nearly ten percent of Americans say they’ve set up a first date via text.
If I call my 20-something kids on their cell phone, it almost always goes to voicemail and they respond eventually. If I text them, even if they’re at work, I get almost instant response. My son has an iPhone and my daughter has some sort of Blackberry-like device.

It seems as if for young Americans, their cell phone is the remote control device for their life. They carry it everywhere and are lost without it. Almost half of the Americans surveyed say ther sleep with their cell phone nearby every night.

I leave mine on the kitchen counter when I go to bed. But my wife has her iPod Touch next to her on the nightstand. If one of the kids texts her, it makes a sound like a cat’s meow. That’s sure to rouse the dog, even if we sleep through it.

It’s our family’s own personal 9-1-1 system, I guess. Maybe we can't "live" without our cell phones, after all.....

1 comment:

  1. The Cat's Meow.

    All good! Until the dog eats the damn thing in a fit of territorialism.