Live long enough, I have discovered, and you will be up-to-date from time to time. Even if you own (and use) an older-style cell phone, a flip phone – what’s disparagingly referred to these days as a “dumb” phone.
That’s me. My phone may be stupid as a stopped clock, but now I’m finding that it’s as up-to-date as the day after tomorrow, thanks to revitalized dumb phone demand confirmed in no less august a publication than the Financial Times, whose stories are always … interesting.
Seems that one enterprising fellow has created a business out of meeting the needs of two kinds of folks: smart phone “refuseniks” like me plus people who have dived headlong into the ever-deeper, ever-connected digital pool and come up gasping for breath. Yes, Joe Hollier’s new company, called Light Phone, offers an alternative product, a new dumb phone that you don’t have to dig out of your junk drawer. His credit-card-sized device is as simple as a stump: no email, no online data connections, no beeping and blathering every time something “important” diverts your attention from something that’s really important, like getting work done, spending time with your family or watching the Republican presidential candidates destroy each other (and perhaps their party) in the latest debate.
As I have reported earlier in this blog, my kids have wished an iPhone on me for a long time. And, so far at least, I have resisted their well-meaning imploring – all except my son, of course, who finagled an old flip phone from his mother when she finally got an iPhone to go with her iPad and her laptop. But then again, my son and his family don’t even have cable TV. Yikes!
The Financial Times article about Joe Hollier’s new dumb phone, which he cleverly positions as Your Phone Away From Phone, provided some revealing information about a market that I knew in my stubborn old bones was lurking somewhere out there beneath the dash and flash of the latest, gotta-have-it-now-or-else-I’ll-die smart phones.
* 44-million basic phones were sold in 2015 (about 2% of the global market), probably to people like me or to users where high speed connections aren’t available.
* Nokia sells a dumb phone with a standby battery life of 38 days!
My dad resisted getting a cell phone ‘til the day he died. When he needed to talk to one of us, he just reached for the old-style corded phone beside his "ejecto"-chair and hit speed dial. I’m a lot like him, I realize more and more, so maybe my obstinate refusal to join the iPhone world (or its competitive equivalent) is no more than confirmation that this apple is falling a lot closer to the tree than I’ve dared consider.
Wait! I think I hear my dumb phone squalling (or whatever that whiny noise is that it makes).
TakeAway: There may be a viable market for technology left in the dust of the latest and greatest. What about the typewriter? The kind you don't need to plug in, of course.