These days phones are used for much more than just making calls. In the subway people all around me concentrate on their small handheld machines. Suddenly, someone notices my modest, outdated phone and says smugly, 'you should think about getting a smart-phone'. Smart-phones are all-in-one devices which usually include a media player, camera, e-mail, web browser, and instant messaging, all in one small device. The smart-phone trend exploded with the the release of Apple's iPhone and its cutting edge touch screen technology.
Last November the iPhone was finally released in Korea. Despite cold weather and hours of waiting, people lined up to be among the first to purchase the new iPhone. Smart-phones continue to be a hot item as people have become more and more dependent on their handheld companions. Tasks which once required many machines are now accomplished by one very efficient smart-phone. Everything from checking bus and train schedules, receiving instant news updates to casually browsing the internet are now commonplace with these amazing little gadgets. There are currently about 60,000 smart-phone users in Korea, and this number continues to rise on a daily basis.
Developed smart-phones make our lives easier, but is the convenience really worthwhile the cost? Phones like the iPhone or the Galaxy S have many features and are considered to be top of the line or premium smart-phones. The problem is, most users never take advantage of these features. Most premium smart-phone owners only use their devices to play games or for text messaging.
For people who simply want less, there are distribution phones, which are more practical and have less features, but cost less. The Optimus One, MIRACH, and Desire POP are distribution phones which sell for about 30,000 won less than their smart-phone counterparts.
In the premium smart-phone market, rich features and high performance are the main selling points. A large touch screen and a 1GHz application microprocessor (AP) are standard features. The distribution smart-phones give up the 1GHz AP for a 500~700MHz AP and normally uses the Proyo (android version 2.2) operating system which allows these phones to sell for up to 50% less than smart-phones.
Consumers are constantly seeking to upgrade to the latest cutting edge technology. This causes so-called smart-phones to become outdated and obsolete rather quickly. Netherlands designer John Do's design team has decided to combat this constant upgrading by creating an anti-smart-phone named John's Phone. It is different from the latest smart-phone which is typically loaded up with a camera, movies, music, calendar, e-mail, web browser, navigation, and the list goes on and on. Instead, John's Phone can only be used to send and receive calls. Some have questioned, 'would someone actually buy that? Unbelievable! It's just a collector's item.' On the other hand people have said, 'I really need that. It strikes my fancy.' Believe it or not, there is an interest for a simple phone which simply allows the user to talk to another person.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but are some people taking it beyond their imagination? Perhaps consumers should look at their needs more closely, rather than simply picking up the latest and greatest device simply because it's cool and trendy.
Dep of Computer Science and Engineering
Choi Jung-youn firstname.lastname@example.org
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