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Smartphones


Jun 5 2011, 01:19 AM (Post #1)
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I feel this belongs in the academy as opposed to GT, as I am doing research over the summer related to this very topic. Specifically, I'd like to start a debate on smartphones, their proliferation in society, and their overall utility as opposed to other devices. I am hoping to publish an article on the devices in the coming months, and I'd like to garner some opinion from educated folks like yourselves.

Thoughts before I comment?
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Jun 5 2011, 04:38 PM (Post #2)
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QUOTE (Pocket Cooters @ Jun 4 2011, 05:19 PM)
I feel this belongs in the academy as opposed to GT, as I am doing research over the summer related to this very topic. Specifically, I'd like to start a debate on smartphones, their proliferation in society, and their overall utility as opposed to other devices. I am hoping to publish an article on the devices in the coming months, and I'd like to garner some opinion from educated folks like yourselves.

Thoughts before I comment?
*


Not sure what specifically about smartphones you're interested in. Do you mean how they affect social connections? Or the functionalities?
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Jun 5 2011, 07:37 PM (Post #3)
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Please be more specific in your query. The smartphone market and its subsequent proliferation into society is a very large topic. What specific sub-topic would you like us to discuss?
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Jun 6 2011, 12:45 AM (Post #4)
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I would say specifically their functionality. My concern (and mind you, this is nothing formal yet, I'm spinning most of this off the top of my head), is whether or not a smartphone is "worth the purchase." So I suppose it is a very large topic.

A couple days ago, I went to the store to buy one, but the cheapest contracted plan ran, with taxes, to a little over $90/month. After deliberating with myself (the proverbial angel/devil argument; I'm pretty sure the representative thought I was insane) and a couple days worth of thought on the matter, I've concluded that the phone's plan was out of my means. However, even in a hypothetical situation (one with me not in a piddling $32K job), I still can't see the overall worth of using a smartphone over some other device (say a netbook or a cheap laptop?).

What it boils down to is pretty simple: given the expected proliferation of wi-fi networks in the coming years, what is the point of a smartphone? It seems like, on any level, an economically unsound decision. Is the appeal to check your messages while driving (which is all but banned in every state anyway) that powerful to warrant spending $400 on a device inferior on all accounts to a laptop of equivalent pricing, and at least $800 a year (I'm being generous with that number) on a connection?

I'm more or less just collecting my thoughts on the matter. A paper is a little far-reaching as of yet, but it's still in the back of my mind.
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Jun 6 2011, 03:53 AM (Post #5)
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It really depends on how much income you have. If you are strapped for money, after skipping on cable and fancy accessories I would just have a cheap voice-only phone, and maybe have some Wifi device separately. It's fine if you're in school all the time, and that's exactly what I did when I made only 20k a year and had to pay for tuition and rent myself.

But after you have at least 10k of money you don't need for rent/food/basic necessities I think it's extremely convenient to have a smartphone with data plan so you can check your email, look up stores, comparison shop in the store, and use cool things like Foursquare.

So it depends on what you're doing and how much money you have to spare.

Additionally it's kind of ridiculous how much data plans cost, considering how little maintenance costs the infrastructure companies have...
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Jun 6 2011, 09:59 PM (Post #6)
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QUOTE (Jinghao @ Jun 5 2011, 10:53 PM)
It really depends on how much income you have. If you are strapped for money, after skipping on cable and fancy accessories I would just have a cheap voice-only phone, and maybe have some Wifi device separately. It's fine if you're in school all the time, and that's exactly what I did when I made only 20k a year and had to pay for tuition and rent myself.


Definitely agreed.

QUOTE
But after you have at least 10k of money you don't need for rent/food/basic necessities I think it's extremely convenient to have a smartphone with data plan so you can check your email, look up stores, comparison shop in the store, and use cool things like Foursquare.

So it depends on what you're doing and how much money you have to spare.


I can't really deny the convenience of a smartphone -- but can't the money be better-spent? I guess the real root of it is wondering if there is something better one could buy with one's discretionary income?

QUOTE
Additionally it's kind of ridiculous how much data plans cost, considering how little maintenance costs the infrastructure companies have...
*



Doubly agreed, though I don't really understand the weight of any of their charges. I can't wrap my head around why a connection to the PSTN costs $35-$40/month, with another $15-$20/month for text messaging.

I can't justify it when I know, three years from now, prices will be cut in half in order to drag in the more resilient consumers.


Also -- with the relative ease of hacking and phishing on phones, even otherwise-keen net users are pretty prone to having their phones compromised. That's the scope of my research for the summer, actually -- whether or not smartphones are "safe", or rather, how to make them safer. A lot of it seems up to the user, similar to computers I suppose, but the software isn't exactly convenient.

It's like a bunch of non-techies were suddenly given some old Red Hat distro; they may be able to work on it, but it's still a pain in the ass.


edit: forgot a word up top -_-
edit: jesus, I need to proofread

This post has been edited by Pocket Cooters: Jun 6 2011, 10:00 PM
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Jun 7 2011, 01:45 AM (Post #7)
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QUOTE (Jinghao @ Jun 5 2011, 10:53 PM)
, and use cool things like Foursquare.
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I hate to change the topic, Cooters, because I have a lot to say about this issue, but...I want to quickly ask—what's the appeal of foursquare? Why's it 'cool' and so widely used? I really don't get it.
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Jun 8 2011, 05:51 AM (Post #8)
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QUOTE (Pocket Cooters @ Jun 6 2011, 01:59 PM)
Definitely agreed.
I can't really deny the convenience of a smartphone -- but can't the money be better-spent? I guess the real root of it is wondering if there is something better one could buy with one's discretionary income?

The question of whether there are better purchases out there is a restatement of whether one has high enough income (such that there are no better purchases).

So aside from special personal/business needs, it comes down to how much money you have.
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Jun 8 2011, 10:56 PM (Post #9)
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QUOTE (Jodi PowerNToughness Gajadar @ Jun 6 2011, 08:45 PM)
I hate to change the topic, Cooters, because I have a lot to say about this issue, but...I want to quickly ask—what's the appeal of foursquare? Why's it 'cool' and so widely used? I really don't get it.
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I think the appeal of foursquare is a derivative of the need to stay connected -- intrinsic human curiosity and appeal for socialization? I couldn't tell you -- I think it's dangerous with regard to personal privacy.

QUOTE (Jinghao @ Jun 8 2011, 12:51 AM)
The question of whether there are better purchases out there is a restatement of whether one has high enough income (such that there are no better purchases).

So aside from special personal/business needs, it comes down to how much money you have.
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My question remains as to why you would ever really want one. I will not rescind that they're convenient, but the amount you spend for marginal gains in convenience is astronomical. I do not understand why making more money justifies a purchase of an extraneous and technologically inferior piece of hardware, when for the same price I could buy a tablet PC and connect for free with the widely available collection of wi-fi hotspots. In the civilised world, wi-fi is about as available as cell phone service (if you're an AT&T subscriber, har har), so the monthly upkeep costs seem not pragmatic, regardless of your income.



Though, perhaps I could argue that these phones really aren't convenient or, in another sense, are counter-productive. You mentioned foursquare, right? On these phones, the widespread availability of location-based services, GPS tracking, intensive social networking has become more and more apparent. In a recent sampling of apps, popular ones that is, many of them unnecessarily collect and transmit private data. Most of the time, it's unbeknownst to the user. Yea, we can strengthen security and restrict app development.

Who knows, I'll post more later -- sorry I have to go



http://appanalysis.org/tdroid10.pdf
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Jun 10 2011, 05:01 AM (Post #10)
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The reason is diminishing returns to money. When you have $10,000 a year, you need every dollar to survive, to buy clothes, food and shelter. But when you're packing $200k a year, you would (at least I would) rather spend another thousand a year on a stupid phone/data plan than get a navigation system for my car, for instance. I mean, what the hell am I gonna do with $200k/year, right?
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