For the first time in about 5 years, I get to pick out a new cell phone. I was bound by a 2 year contract that transitioned directly into a district-approved phone. I haven’t had choice of provider, phone or plan for all of that time. Now that I must give up my well-worn but not well-loved Blackberry, I find that I am struggling to figure out what it is that I really care about. It is all well and good to critique the new protocols and gimmicks offered on each device, but now that I am faced with the decision for myself, I am balking at the choice.
Here is my current thought process:
I can’t imagine continuing on with a phone that can’t do voice and data at the same time. Too often I have had to hang up on someone in order to search through my email for important details, just to call that person back with them still up on my screen. This means that all CDMA carriers are out, including Verizon and Sprint.
I can’t imagine going with any OS other than Android or iOS. There are just too many apps that do too many great like control my computer remotely or edit video on the fly. Both have respectable communities of developers and both are competing hard with one another for the most innovation, and I am in favor of that continuing for a long time. This does mean, however, that Blackberry, Symbian, Palm and any other proprietary OS phones are out completely.
I can’t imagine buying a phone without both HD video and a forward facing camera. The idea of chronicling my life and the live of my children on a daily basis with a High Definition camera with me at all times is nothing short of revolutionary. The ability to do a video conference on the go as well is icing on top for sure, but it will shortly become the norm. This means that pretty much anything not made by either Apple or HTC (and possibly Motorola if I wait a bit).
I can’t imagine working with a tool that doesn’t talk to my other tools. It had better sync up with my computer, my iPad and all of my other cloud-based devices that make my learning environment rich. This does not mean that I need flash or that I have to have it be as screemingly fast as everything else. When I want to tether, I should be able to. When I want to present from my phone, I should be able to. When I want to sync all of my contacts and calendar and tasks, I should be able to. I just need something that works, all of the time. Right now, the only things that seem to fit that bill are the iPhone 4 on ATT and the Mytouch 4g on T-Mobile.
I realize that this decision is incredibly trivial. I realize that there are so many more important things that I have decided to do in the last week. However, having not had choice in this area of my life for 5 years means that I want to consider everything before I commit. And as I go over these ideas in my head, repeating the same logic until I figure out what makes the most sense, I know that I am getting that much closer to understanding the true choice of our times.
Once we have decided to take a leap into open competition, the only thing that limits us our choice what we “can’t imagine.” All of the things that I listed above that I can’t imagine doing is a means of limiting what is possible. It is the way we must make choices in a world of abundance, but it is also the way in which we will lose out on some of the most unique and interesting opportunities of our time.
I will probably choose and iPhone 4. I will probably be happy with that choice. But, that won’t change the fact that the things I can’t imagine doing would simplify my life and make me less dependent upon my device. If I can’t do data and voice at the same time, I would do that much less talking or that much less surfing. If I can’t imagine going with a different OS, I will probably miss out on the radical departures in that space. If I can’t imagine a phone without HD video, I will no longer have the pleasure of taking my video camera and just worrying about that without wondering where I will post it and how much bandwidth it is going to eat up. If I can’t imagine a tool that doesn’t sync, I will lose out on a singularly useful experience. I will be weighed down by all of the other things that I subscribe to instead of moving forward with the device I can work with now.
And yet, I will still choose the iPhone 4. And my imagination will just have to work on other things.
- iOS Platform of Choice for More Than 50% of Developers (nytimes.com)
- Android devices outselling iOS by 2:1 in US (q3) (computerworld.com)