Reality Check, I Am Not Part of the New Tech Savy Generation

by James R. Stoup Oct 31, 2006

Last week reality body-checked me so hard I almost coughed up my own teeth, and it all started when I decided to get a new cell phone. My wife and I walked into a Verizon store looking for new phones since our old ones weren’t cutting it anymore. Upon entering the store we were immediately spotted by a very young, very friendly sales person. Soon enough we found ourselves being shown all of Verizon’s wonderful array of cell phones and it was here that my trouble began. You see, our sales person was on a completely different wavelength from us. This eventually led to a bit of confusion on his part.

You see, he just didn’t understand what we were looking for in a phone. And no matter how many times I explained it to him just didn’t want to believe me. Maybe he thought I was just trying to screw with him. What was my outrageous demand, you ask? I wanted a cell phone that could make telephone calls.

And. That’s. It.

This didn’t sit well with my friend, the salesman. I guess he just had never before had a customer like me. It could be, that to him, I was a test. A challenge to his cellphone-selling abilities, if you will. Or maybe he thought I was a secret agent sent by Human Resources to gauge his grit and determination. To see just how hard he would try to sell me a phone. Our conversation was quite amusing and it went something like this:

Me - “Hi, I’m looking for a cellphone. It needs to be .  .  .”

Verizon Dude - “Well, take a look at these over here. They are fully featured phones all at a great price and they include several nice accessories.”

Me - “Thats great but these phones are a bit more than what I need.”

Verizon Dude - [he doesn’t even hear what I said] “As you can see these phones have built in digital cameras, video-recording capabilities, they play music, let you watch TV shows, surf the internet, play games and send text messages. Here, let me show you the TV function.” [another 8 min. is wasted while he shows me how he can watch NFL content on a 2 inch screen. words fail to capture how impressed I was]

Me - “I don’t need any of those features.”

Verizon Dude - [blank look ensues. if I had responded in French I would have gotten the same look] “WHAT? What do you mean?”

Me - “I wouldn’t use any of those features.”

Verizon Dude - “But it plays music!”

Me - “I have a $400 iPod, I can assure you I won’t be listening to music on a cell phone.”

Verizon Dude - “But it has a camera in it too.”

Me - “I already have a digital camera. I just need a cell phone that can make calls, thats it.”

Verizon Dude - [he still hasn’t gotten it yet.] “But don’t you need a phone that is text messaging capable?”

Me - “I don’t send text messages.”

Verizon Dude - [at this point he is standing there with his mouth open, staring at me in total astonishment. it was a very uncomfortable 15 seconds] “Uh. . .you don’t use text messaging?”

Me - “Nope.”

Verizon Dude - [doesn’t understand, but finally starts to accept it.] “Ok. . . well, which package do you want?”

Me - “I don’t want a package. I just want a cell phone.”

Verizon Dude - “But, if you get the package you get a car charger and a case.”

Me - “I don’t need a car charger and I keep my phone in my pocket.”

Verizon Dude - “. . .”

Me - “I just want a phone. Just a phone. That’s it.”

Verizon Dude - “Well, ok, I guess.”

And eventually I walked out of the store with a phone and only a phone. I didn’t sign up for any video on demand, my cell phone won’t play music and I won’t be sending any text messages. I wanted a basic phone and I got a basic phone, but it was a fight to the death to make it happen. And that is when it hit me. I am only 24 and yet I am no longer part of the “new” generation of technology users. Laugh if you want, but it made me feel old. Old and decrepit.

Talk to most teenagers today and ask them how many hundreds of text messages they send each month. Ask them how they communicate and you will see that the cell phone is an integral part of their life. I know plenty of kids who don’t send email. Why? Its too slow. They just use IM. Email is so old fashion, you see.

And cell phones are only going to get more complex and incorporate more functionality as time goes on. People like me are a dying breed. I feel like I should be lumped in the category of 8 track users, palm pilot aficionados and those people who still write letters to their acquaintances. The world is moving on and I think its leaving me behind.

And this brings me up to Apple and their much rumored cell phone plans. Which route will Apple take? Part of me thinks they might actually continue with their simple and elegant style and make a phone that’s really just a phone. Not a swiss army knife of crappy features glued onto a phone, but a well designed phone. But what I think is more likely is that Apple will continue on in its quest to capture the hearts and minds of this newest tech-crazed generation. And so this wonderful iPhone will have all of the features I don’t want, but will come in an attractive package forcing me to admire it.

I will still hate those features and find them superfluous, but maybe I won’t mind them that much if they come in a stylish white enclosure.


  • If you have a problem at 24 think how it is at 62!  I was lucky in that I started off with Nokia phones on an Australian carrier.  It didn’t have screwed up menu designed by yo-yos at a carrier.

    It did have the one, easy to find feature that is handy for business travel - an alarm clock.  Most important was that it was easy to find on the menu and easy to set.

    Text messaging?  In the time it takes to prepare a text message most people could simply make a short phone call - and get an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) automatically included.

    I believe that the iPhone may have some features that you don’t want - but only because it will be cheaper to include them than to build a line without them.  A camera for sure, but you won’t be required to use it, or the other features.  But I have a feeling that it will include a little something that Apple dreams up that will catch your attention and, sadly, you will find yourself acting like a younger generation again . . .

    MacKen had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 88
  • The same is true of digital cameras. In the never-ending quest to “out-feature” each other, the manufactures forget to put the user first, not the marketing department. “We need like 4 more bullet points to beat Canon!”

    foresmac had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 20
  • You’re not a dying breed, you’re just not what Verizon wants you to be.

    Oh, and the kids who don’t send email; trust me, it’s because they don’t know how. I started college five years ago and expected to be overwhelmed by the technical knowledge of my fellow students. If one more of these “kids” asks me to fix their computer or design their webpage or teach them to run Word and SPSS, I’m going to have to thump them with my amazing Tablet PC (oooooohhhhh…you can write on the screen?). A cellphone is the very limit of the knowledge most of them have, and a Smartphone can make their brain explode.

    ogman had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 2
  • There was talk a while back of “Jet”, a phone that was to be carried by UK network O2. Quad-band, Bluetooth and an excess of 6 hours talk was meant to aim this at business users that wanted a phone to communicate, not as a fashion gadget.

    Unfortunately, nothing seems to have come of it; the expected October announcement has come and gone. A shame, I wanted one as soon as I read the rumour.

    Dan Ebeck had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 23
  • why dont you get the Motofone then? it’s only a phone with stylish design that resembles the motorola SLVR L7

    nana had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 63
  • The same is true of digital cameras. In the never-ending quest to “out-feature” each other, the manufactures forget to put the user first, not the marketing department. “We need like 4 more bullet points to beat Canon!”

    Man that has to be the funniest comment that I have read in a while. Apple Matters, you guys need to start a funniest comment contest and give these guys iTunes c ertificates or something, lol!!!!

    Frank 'viperteq' Young had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 32
  • So which phone did you end up with?

    I am more of a Smartphone-person, and I hardly make any calls. I prefer the possible answer-latency that texting offers, and I want to check my Emails wherever. I also like my phone to have a - reasonable - camera so I can take a quick snap of new people in order to have their face pop up when they call and to be more able to recall who they actually are when browsing my contacts. Plus I am backup-o-phile, I *need* perfect sync with the Mac.

    Trouble is, manufacturers have largely lost the ability to make decent, well working phones. We have talked about this before in this place. You get ill-working, dumbed-down and overly expensive items, and Mac-compatiblity is seemingly a pie in the sky issue. This is why I dearly hope for Apple to put an end to the misery, and do so in a way that does not exclude consumers due to contracting.

    I won’t be buying a contract from T-Mobile, Verizon, or whomever just to use Apple’s phone. There needs to a non-subsidized one from the regular store that does not lack any functionality.

    I would also rather expect Apple to come up with two different designs, a simple one and a feature-laden one. Although it is Apple we are talking about, we could expect them to implement a plethora of features in a way that does not interfere with basic usage.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 371
  • In defense of my local Verizon store (north Texas area), I will say that they were very helpful when we were looking for a phone for my wife’s grandmother.  When we entered and stated that “we are looking for a basic phone, just for calls”, I braced myself.  However, the response was, “no problem here is the ......”.

    They understood that she was not into text messaging or any other “extra”.  She just wanted a phone.

    TexasAg03 had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 17
  • I agree with the author, mobile phones are out of control.  I used to have a Nokia 6610.  It rocked, simple, very small and light and a battery that went for a couple of weeks easily without needing a recharge, and the reception and voice quality was outstanding.  My current Motorola is bigger, heavier, with a slow user interface and the battery goes in 3-4 days.  Also, the old Nokia’s reception was far superior. 

    What I don’t get, is why does reception and call quality not seem to matter at all anymore?  What’s the point of having a phone if the ability to understand the voice on the other end is secondary to how many gadgets the phone has built-in?

    I started looking for a new phone, and came up with a short list of possible replacements:

    Motorola V195 (T-Mobile)
    Motorola L2 (Cingular)
    Nokia 6030 (T-Mobile, Cingular)

    The L2 is the nicest, but I have T-Mobile and don’t want to change, so it would cost $100 to buy an unlocked phone from a third party.  So, I think what I will do is fork out the $30 for a new battery for my old Nokia and go with that.

    MonaLisa had this to say on Oct 31, 2006 Posts: 3
  • I take it, James, you won’t be getting an iPhone?  wink

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Nov 01, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Apple are going to include video conferencing in the iPhone. Maybe not in vers 1.0 but it’s coming soon. That’s why Apple has been including iSights in so many of their Macs, and why they’ve ramped up the video conferencing in iChat.

    Apple Matters, you guys need to start a funniest comment contest and give these guys iTunes c ertificates or something

    Great idea, viperteq.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Nov 01, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • Couldn’t agree more.  I am waiting for Apple to release a phone - hoping that Apple produce something that is minimalist in design and easy to use.  The “simplest” phone I could find is a Motorola Razr.  I HATE IT.  I have turned off all the WAP/Web crap, but the user interface sucks, the keypad is awkward and the predictive texting is so wayward that you might as well type everything SOS style…  It takes crappy pics, and even crappier videos, and annoys me every time i turn it on or off with its idiotic “look at me” melodic chimes.

    I dont know how to use any of the advanced features, and i don’t care.  I have an iPod, a digital camera and a Mac for browsing the web.  All of which do the job a damn site better than the Motorola.

    If it didnt have all those silly features, and the predictive text was a bit less clever, and therefore a bit more usable, the Motorola might come close to my old Nokia for usability…  And if that old phone hadn’t fallen apart i would still be using it…

    sydneystephen had this to say on Nov 02, 2006 Posts: 124
  • I will not again use a phone to take pictures. I will not again use a phone to take videos. I will not again use a phone to listen my music. I will not again use my phone to…now, repeat… wink

    Heh, heh. Here’s a toast to the current crap we call cell phone innovations. Where’s the “phone” innovation in these stupid contraption??? I still use my Smartphone (Kyocera 7035) with Palm OS4 (I think) circa 2002 and still obedient and ticking - thank goodness for I hate to be upgrading now.

    Bad photos, crappy videos, sluggish >128kbps MP3 output. Man, I could live with them if they were half as great as claimed in their marketing.

    In all the effor to out-“bullet” the competition, their engineers forget what the device really is - a phone! A device that needs to make voice calls with a certain accepted quality (landline quality?)

    So, Apple must be careful to implement these useless features. It must advance the “phone” first then I can live with whatever else they put since I can trust Apple to carefully engineer these “nuisances” to be very useful.

    Robomac had this to say on Nov 04, 2006 Posts: 846
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