After suffering a tragic injury as a young man, Dan Ariely wanted to know what sorts of treatment hurt less. Was it better – as the adage says – to rip the band-aid off all at once? Or was it better to slowly peel the bandages off? Questions such as these led Ariely to the field of behavioral economics, where he continued to ask questions about why people sometimes pay too high a price when logic would dictate otherwise. He outlines what he’s learned in his terrific book, “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”.
Ariely examines the relationships between relative prices and purchase decisions, procrastination and decision making, the costs of social norms vs. economic transactions, and what causes people to cheat. Smart, well-written, often funny and occasionally poignant, Ariely brings both a scientist’s detachment and a moralist’s passion to these and other issues. Business managers and marketers will gain tremendous insights for setting prices designed to sell, and everyone will learn more about who we are and why we do what we do. I highly recommend picking up a copy.
A couple weeks back, I managed to lose my right hand, er, my Blackberry Pearl. Suddenly, I lacked access to my email, voice and data applications that I have increasingly taken for granted over the last several years. No email. No texting. No mobile web browsing. No Twitter. Gah.
So, what did I learn?
Voice remains the killer app. While I didn’t have access to the many mobile web elements I use regularly (GReader and Twitter tops among them), not having a phone while at the grocery store or on the train to keep in touch with family, friends and work was the biggest concern.
The connectedness of your network (the people kind, not technology) drives your mobile killer app. Because most folks use their phone primarily for voice, it continues to dominate. Email was important, too (not surprising for a Blackberry user, I suppose). And losing both essentially cut me off from the world.
Mobile broadband access offset the pain. While whipping out my laptop and starting both its mobile broadband connection and Skype is a much bigger pain in the rear than using a phone, it was no less effective. As mobile broadband becomes more common, will multifunction devices (palmtops, tablet PC’s) take some of the function of mobile phones? (Or is it vice versa?)
My phone also serves as my main address book. And, apparently, I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore.
My productivity didn’t change. This surprised me more than anything. Most people – me included – assumed I’d get more done while disconnected. And while I did catch up on some (print) reading, I spent so much time looking for network connections or landlines or phone numbers or email addresses I that I couldn’t get other things done near so quickly or easily as usual. The lack of interruption made it easier to accomplish a single task. But managing the myriad moments of my day suffered massively.
It’s becoming popular to declare the mobile web dead in the water. I disagree. As your network – or your customers’ – starts using their mobile device for data as much as voice, expect that adoption to grow. We’re only just starting to see the birth of innovative mobile apps, be they Slifter, WorldMate or social tools like Facebook and Twitter. Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks mobile advertising is set to explode. Mobile devices have achieved faster penetration than any prior technology. Give them a little time and they’re likely to change the world. Just like they’ve changed mine.
What’s the longest you’ve had to go without your mobile device? How did you manage? Tell us about it in the comments.
Robert Gorell at GrokDotCom links to an interesting study today about opt-in vs. opt-out forms. It seems the best way to get your customers to opt-in is to require them to specifically opt out. But, commenter Troy hits it on the head when he asks, how many know they’ve opted in. As noted a few days ago, spam is what your customers think it is. There’s nothing wrong with making your forms opt out. Just make sure you’re clear on what your customers are opting out of.