Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Smartphone – My Life

I hate to say it, but one of the biggest disappointments of my eight month round the world trip last year and into 2011, was the performance of my iPhone 3GS smart-phones. That’s right, both of them.

My first iPhone had problems with the WiFi. Namely, it couldn’t pick up a WiFi signal, even if I was sitting right on top of it. However, all other aspects of its function seemed to be ok. When I arrived in New York City in July 2010 I went to one of the massive Apple Stores in the city and got staff at the Genius desk to look at my phone. They confirmed the WiFi function was non-functioning and a was able to purchase a new iPhone 3GS at a much reduced rate.

Happily, WiFi worked fine during the rest of the American leg of my trip. Unfortunately, it stopped working once I reached Europe in October, and hasn’t worked since! Other aspects of the phone’s function seem to be lest than ideal, as time goes on, and quite frankly I am over it.

Ongoing problems with my iPhone are the reason I haven’t embraced the iPad. Although I think the iPad is an amazing device, I am holding off to see what other manufacturers release over the next 12-18 months, with particular interest in new devices utilising Google’s Android software.

I’m writing about this today because of a recent smartphone survey conducted by Prosper Mobile Insight (PMI), which reveals key insights on mobile usage, security concerns and privacy issues, as well as the way smartphone owners use their devices to buy products and services using their phones.

To quote from the survey media release: “As mobile technology continues to evolve, a majority of smartphone users are fully integrating their devices into every aspect of their daily lives… 52.9% say they utilize all of the functions of their smartphones—it’s their life. 30.4% say they use the basic functions of their smartphones plus some applications and 16.7% only use their smartphones for calling, texting and emailing.”

“With all the unique features of smartphones, texting (21.6%), Internet (16.7%) and email (15.7%) are the top functions smartphone users say they cannot live without. Calling features (7.8%), GPS (6.9%) and Facebook (5.9%) are also necessities to some.”

I’m with those survey respondents. I was totally wedded to my iPhone after my initial purchase – despite the WiFi problem – and the phone seemed to be a permanent extension of my arm. I was never more than a few minutes, or metres, away from it, and even now, I am never without the phone.

Security Ongoing Concern
Despite the joys (or otherwise) of owning a smartphone, security issues are never far from the minds of phone users.

The PMI Smartphone survey also reveals that the top privacy issue among smartphone users is location tracking (35.3%), followed closely by unauthorized access to personal information (31.4%), someone accessing financial data (21.6%), and online behavior being tracked (11.8%). Despite these concerns, 55.9% of smartphone users say they prefer using their smartphone to access the Internet over using a computer – as opposed to 35.3% who prefer to use a computer.

A few more interesting bits of information from the survey: The vast majority of smartphone users (81.4%) say they use their smartphone to browse for products or services online, while 77.5% use their smartphone to locate stores or look for store hours. (Source: Prosper Mobile Insight Smartphone Survey, May, 2011)

Clearly, these are the early days of smartphone development and use, and I for one, am quite sure that these ubiquitous devices will only get smaller, faster, cheaper and more powerful over the next five years. I am also sure that in spite of my own less than perfect experiences with the iPhone, there is no turning back to the ‘old days’ to embrace anything less than state of the art, when it comes to modern phone technology.


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