Monday, June 7, 2010

No Smartphone Folk Us

My wife and I are technological anachronisms.

We have one cell phone between the two of us. One. As in only one phone, for two people. And all this phone does is make phone calls. Oh, we can send text messages too, but since we only have one phone, who are we sending them to?

We have other little hand-held gadgets: Between the two of us, we have two iPod Touches and two regular iPods. For the Touches, we use our home network or, when we can, a free wi-fi network. My wife has a Kindle that cadges onto a free cell network wherever she goes.

We don’t have smartphones. We don’t have a cell phone plan – ours is pay-per-use. We’re not dropping the $70 to $100 a month that others do for their fancy gadgets. Oh, we could probably find many reasons to sign up, but to tell the truth, we’re not missing right now what we’ve never had.

We do have wireless Internet at home. When we didn’t have broadband, I missed it. We were on DSL for a while, then, to save money, we were on dial-up. Then we went back to broadband, and we’ll never go back to anything else. But we knew what we were missing. With cell phones, not so much.

Now AT&T, home of the iPhone, is implementing a 2GB cap for smartphone data use, with $10 per additional gigabyte charges after that, on top of the $25 paid for the first two. Do not want. Do not need. We’ve got no data limits on our home network, which is a good thing, since we’d likely be paying extra every month if we did.

The irony here is that Apple today announced its iPhone 4, which features, among “100 new features that aren’t available on the current iPhone 3GS,” per, the ability to video chat. Steve Jobs says this of this new technological feat:

I grew up with the Jetsons dreaming about video phones. It's real now.

So how long of a video chat can you do for under 2GB, and still be able to use your smartphone before getting smacked with extra fees? Well, probably not much. This, per AT&T:
2 GB is the equivalent of 10,000 emails without attachments, 1,500 emails with attachments, 4,000 Web pages, posting 500 photos to social media sites, and 200 minutes of streaming video combined.
How quickly one will go over that limit – and incur more charges – is anyone’s guess. But since Americans in general have lost common sense when it comes to cell phones, they won’t blink at the additional gigabyte charges (I know.; I used to work for Qwest and got innumerable calls from folks with horrendous cell phone bills that they just up and paid because, “Ya gotta have a cell phone.”). Yeah. With all the doodads.

I think I can hear George Jetson’s reaction right about now:

But do I need Internet everywhere? Sure, it would have been fun to send a tweet from the top of the Teton Dam this past weekend, but would it really have been worth the $80 a month just to do that, or even to just do that a few hundred times in a given month? Not really. I don’t need real-time broadcasting of my inane activities when I can do virtual real time when I get back home.

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