Heat pack, crooked back, give a man a phone…

So after pulling up a bit gingerly after attempting to lift an altogether-too-large bookcase at IKEA with incredibly poor posture, my lower back has progressively worsened to the point that I sit here, at home, tethered to a heat-pack and anti-inflammed up. A heartening trip to the physio, which included some manipulation and more cracks than a stockyard whip at a cattle round-up, leaves me positive that with good management, a little more heat (MORE HEAT) and some time, it’ll be good to go before too long… although, I must hereby announce – prior to its commencement it must be said – that my log/dwarf tossing career is over…

So with that out of the way, I can turn to the latest thing to have caught my attention: phones, iphones and SMRT phones.

With the much-hyped release of the iphone 4, I finally got around to thinking that perhaps I should upgrade from my doorstop/brick/bottle opener (with phone functionalities) and join the early 2000s. If you had’ve asked me 15-20 years ago if I would perceive that I would later become a ‘technological laggard’, I have a feeling the answer would’ve been firmly in the negative. After all, my family trail-blazed with the Apple IIc back in the early 80s, we were in the first wave of Sega Megadrive owners in Bonny Hills (more a ripple than a wave) and I was one of the first Bonny Hillbillies to enjoy the light-speeds of 56.6Kbps internet (at my neighbor’s). I’d burnt the snake oil, rearranged the goat’s intestines and gazed upwards to observe birds of carrion and the auguries were positive!

So what happened?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book The Tipping Point, talks about technological adoption as part of a larger discussion of social epidemics (a prĂ©cis is found here, including a very sophisticated graph). Leading the way are the innovators and the early adopters. To make generalisations, these guys are the ones that always update to cutting edge technologies (even though they may still be a little bug-ridden); they line up for hours to upgrade to the latest gizmo or iWhatsit and (probably) bemoan the mass uptake of the technology that they’d discovered so many eons earlier. Not to refrain from sweeping generalisations, they’re probably also the guys that can’t wait for Tomb Raider 3D to come out, so they can finally marvel (in cinemas, and later in their own company) at the eye-popping extent of Lara Croft’s assets.

You then have the early majority and late majority, who are the ones that have probably purchased a phone between 4 years ago and last year that – at the very least – has web browsing, social media, a camera. Some of the late majority may not yet have upgraded but are a good bet to do so when their next 24 month plan winds up.

Then, bringing up the rear are the technological laggards. In preparing this treatise, I’ve realised there aren’t too many positive words that end in ‘-ard’: dullard, braggard, retard, wizard… These guys are the ones that are ‘resistant’ to change for lack of a better word or who, for whatever reason, haven’t caught the smartphone bug. There are some laggards that may still not realise that you can send a mini-letter through your phone, who think that ‘VHS is just fine and dandy thank you very much’ and find obsolescence the greatest driver of technological advancement.

While I’m certainly not a ‘tail-blazer’ in this sense, I admittedly have not jumped on the sooper-phone bandwagon as quickly as 9 yr old me may have thought. Whysat?
1) You pay a premium to be an early-innovator/adopter. And with the latest round of smartphones only available on 24month plans, you can be sure that you’ll be thwacked when you have to pay off your ‘old’ iphone4 in 12 months time for the ‘new’ 24month planned iphone5 or iphone-alternative. Not to mention the plans that are bundled with the phones are not really that cheap.
2) Smartphones are expensive – $750-$1250 outright for the latest models. That’s a trip to Bali for 2, a laptop, or a new DSLR.

The first two objections are obviously related to my fiscally prudent Scottish heritage and thus couldn’t really be helped… the next observations I was able to make of my own volition, unswayed by heritage and bloodline.

3) There’s no iPhone killer currently on the market. iPhones are great, don’t get me wrong; I just don’t necessarily subscribe to the strictures that Apple imposes to ‘encourage’ users to use the entire Apple suite of products. The Android-based (is Google any better?) phones have come a long way and each has its relative merits and downsides, but none shine down upon us with an all-conquering halo of non-Apple goodness…
4) Lastly, I think I primarily need just a phone… I appreciate the lure of 1,000,000 apps (999,900 pointless and 100 good ones); I understand the appeal of instant connectivity to news/social media/online banking/flight check-in; I’m in awe at the fact that the latest phones have faster processors than desktops we were using not 10 years ago… but… do we need that every waking hour of our lives? Internet is ubiquitous in my house and my work. The only time I’m not connected is on my 15 minute ride to/from work, when I’m in the pool/beach, asleep and snoring or out and about on weekends… while I’ve certainly been caught out before (phoning my flatmate, providing my bank details and asking him to exchange cash to my keycard – and hopefully not to an additional accout in the Caymans), I do enjoy the tech-free human element of these times and interactions…


…in sum, after my research it appears that – iphone4’s are great; in fact iphone 3GS’ are great (and probably cheaper if you can live with having last year’s item). HTC’s phones are likely to keep on throwing (and landing) punches for the Android platform into the future and comprise good viable alternatives. The Samsung Galaxy S is a great phone – with a few unfortunate failings – that would probably serve all of your immediate smartphoning needs and then some. **These are all mini-PCs with phone and text functionality; correspondingly make sure that you have a good daily phone charging routine.**

As for me, the Nokia E63 will suffice for 12 months, when I shall peruse the landscape once more and see how far behind us laggards are. I think the E63 is a smart phone because I can charge it every 3-4 days, I can do internet banking/flight check-in at a pinch, it doubles up as a torch, and on a $29 cap I’ll never have to refrain from sending Storm a reply-text for fear of running out of pre-paid credit.

And just remember, you early-innovators need people like me… after all, innovation is relative, and if you don’t have us laggards, how will you be able to see how far you’ve really come, condescendingly smile inwardly/laugh outwardly/tweet profusely at how further advanced you are than some of us, and justify in your mind the premium you pay to remain that way, at the front of the innovation curve…?

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