Thursday, December 27, 2012

(Business) Smartphones: smartphone envy on the rise

Love them or hate them, smartphones are here to stay. The market growth of smartphones has been explosive over the last couple of years, and has swamped us with thousands of phones to choose from. Gone are the days when the sole purpose of a mobile phone was to make phone calls; today, your phone is a powerful computer that fits in your pocket. The usefulness and popularity of smartphones can’t be ignored with smartphone addiction becoming a major thing.

The continuous onslaught of newer and faster models of these smartphones have spawned a first world problem called ‘smartphone envy’. While all smartphones manufacturers advertise their latest model as the best phone ever made, how many customers actually feel so after buying it? Less than half, if recent studies are to be believed. No matter how expensive and advanced your phone is, pretty soon you’ll feel that it has become obsolete.

A survey reveals that one fifth of all iPhone owners suffer from smartphone envy. The biggest reason behind is that most people buy these expensive phones on a contract, which means that they are stuck with it for at least 2 years. So even if an iPhone is the best phone available, the allure of a newer phone keeps on nagging. Within 2 years, hundreds of new smartphone models flood the market, but people already on contract can’t buy them. While it is indeed possible to pay extra to get out of a contract for an early upgrade, the high cost is a major deterrent, forcing them to live out their contract with their obsolete smartphone.

Another major reason behind smartphone envy is the software itself. For example, if you’ve got an iPhone, you’re forced to use iOS, which has its own limitations. While most iOS users might boast about the stability and availability of awesome apps for the platform, they can’t overlook the extremely closed and inflexible nature of the operating system. Similarly, while Android users like the open source nature of the platform, they are envious of the exclusiveness and stability of iOS. Blackberry users used to boast about the exclusiveness of the BBM service until the gradual decline of RIM started. Blackberry users very envious of iOS and Android because of their stocked up app stores and touch based interface.

Many users believe their smartphone envy exists because of the lack of availability of apps for their smartphones. Windows phone users are right on the top in this department, because the number of people developing for this platform is almost nil. Microsoft so far has failed in its efforts to woo third party developers in a way Apple and Google have, and therefore its users suffer from the worst case of smartphone envy.

While Apple app store is safe, well stocked, and the most user friendly app store around, the closed structure and Apple’s vigorous censorship has put many people off. Apple users are envious of Android users because they have more freedom to install whatever they want on their device. But then, developers flock to Apple because of the higher income, and Android users miss out on some great apps which are available for iOS only. While this might be gradually changing, but for app developers the top priority platform is still iOS, and is expected to remain for quite some time.

The constant state of battle between major manufacturers adds fuel to the prevalent smartphone envy in customers. Even though a big majority of users do not use their smartphone to its full potential, the desire to remain up to date nudges them to splurge their money on the latest gadget. If you too are a victim of smartphone envy, do your research and, if possible, try out the new handset you desire and make an intelligent decision.

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