skip to Main Content

Can you live without a mobile phone?

mobile phoneA 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.

Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

This Post Has 0 Comments
  1. I read your blog regularly, Tim, but this post really hit home with me. I have a five-year-old cell phone (yeah, really high-tech), and have never bothered to get even Web access for it. I rarely do text messaging because it’s so painful for me to tap out the message on those teeny keys. So I went to the store a few months ago in search of a new cell phone and walked out with…a broadband connection for my laptop instead.

    And it’s been nothing short of a revelation for me. All the time that I had to prepare work ahead of time before I traveled (print out all the research before you write the next chapter, print out the directions to the hotel, etc.) has now disappeared.

    So, I still think that I will eventually get a real cell phone (probably with a QWERTY keyboard) so I can join the 21st century, but I found as you did that broadband access was a real game-changer.

    I also agree with you that mobile is still coming, just a lot more slowly than people expected. When wireless companies make mobile work the way the Web works (flat rate from your ISP for all you can eat), then watch it take off.

  2. Exactly, Mike. Great points. Upon further review, I think adoption will depend on a combination of three factors:

    • Network speed
    • Screen size (I don’t think small form factors lend themselves to, for example, real work on a spreadsheet)
    • Access to your people network. As above, if your family, friends, and colleagues don’t use a particular service, your need for it shrinks big time

    Thanks for the comment and for reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top