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Why Dumbphones Still Dominate, For Now

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the dumbbells-are-everywhere dept.

Android 618

Velcroman1 writes "Androids are awesome, iPhones impressive ... but dumbphones still dominate. Of the 234 million cell phone users in America last year, a dominating 73 percent own traditional (aka non-smart) devices, according to market researcher comScore. Despite their more popular mindshare, intelligent devices like the Apple iPhone and phones based on Google's Android operating system own barely a quarter of the market."

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Smart people (5, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173192)

Some people are smart enough to realise (and have the restraint) that you don't need to be connected all the time; that it's actually healthier not to be.

Alas, I'm not one of them.

Re:Smart people (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173342)

I have a $320 MSI netbook and a cheap data plan that does a lot more than I could with any smart phone. It only weighs maybe 2 pounds more and I can easily carry it in my satchel.

So, basically, I could buy a $200 more expensive phone and lose a lot of functionality to gain a small bit of convenience, or I could just keep using the netbook to do remote work when I need it.

Smartphones are toys, and at their current cost, they're not compelling toys for more people. They either need to increase their functionality to match netbooks and laptops or they need to drop in price to be more commensurate with their actual usefulness before they become widely accepted as the norm.

Re:Smart people (5, Informative)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173428)

It's not a satchel, it's a purse.

Re:Smart people (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173502)

its a European Shoulder Bag...

Re:Smart people (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173534)

GP was talking about a satchel bag attached to his horse. He drives a carriage instead of a car, too.

Re:Smart people (2)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173546)

It's European!

Re:Smart people (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173350)

I once saw an awesome word that described "medicine in an impure phone". This means that ____ is absolutely not a placebo; however, all kinds of other good,bad, & ugly things are wrapped up in the "blob" that confuse the issue. Marketing's entire duty is to prevent rational decision making. I feel you have fallen prey to this.

So ... don't be connected all the time. However, the realms of (smartphone) and (connected all the time) are not the same. Smartphones are hardware devices which Do Stuff. Connected is a service package choice. The offline apps are still neat.

I like my iPhone's organization of little app buttons and UI way better than my old Sprint brick years ago. Smart. However I didn't care for the current aggressive gouging of the mobile operators, so I canceled my monthly plan and went go-phone prepaid on AT&T. But alas, what about my data needs? WiFi. Work has one. *McDonalds* has one.

Re:Smart people (1)

georgesdev (1987622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173632)

Smartphones are hardware devices which Do Stuff. Connected is a service package choice. The offline apps are still neat.

Absolutely. In fact I have a little Samsung Naos (android 2.1) that I got for close to 0$ but never plugged a sim card in it (prefer my iphone 3G).
The point is that this Android smart-phone has wifi, so it's a nice toy for gmail, podcasts, radios, photos, games, ssh terminal etc ... and without even a data plan.
My kids want to steal it from me!

Re:Smart people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173684)

I'm not sure how you managed to do this. AT&T has made it very clear that to have the "privilege" of using a "smartphone" on their network you MUST subscribe to a data plan. If you don't they will simply add one on for you-- the most expensive one, of course, for your convenience. If you've found a way to circumvent this, please let the rest of us know, since I'd love to have a wifi only smartphone with no data package...

Re:Smart people (5, Interesting)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173462)

I switched from a smart phone plan to a "dumb phone" plan because I found it too distracting to be connected all the time. To each their own, however.

Incidentally, I've found social interactions (particularly lunch, coffee, or interactions that take a while) with people who don't have smart phones to be more pleasant. Not to say anything about inherent social personalities of smart phone and dumb phone users, but dumb phone users simply don't check their phones as much. It's nice to be able to talk to someone at lunch without them constantly checking their email or twitbook each time there's a natural lull in the flow of conversation. It breaks attention and train of thought. Their social facial and body cues are sometimes missing from the conversation, so it makes the other party feel like they're disengaged.

Re:Smart people (2)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173616)

I have a data plan, and yet I'm not connected all the time. To the contrary - I'm only only when I need to. I don't have an endless stream of twitter feeds, facebook updates and rss stuff streaming to my phone; I just have google when I need it.

It's not even a matter of "which plan", it's just a matter of having control over your own actions.

preference != (smart || restraint) (4, Interesting)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173570)

Honestly. Many people simply do not have the need, desire, temperament, or extra money required to purchase something other than a "dumbphone". Also, "dumbphones" make phone calls just as well as the so-called "smartphones".
It has nothing to do with being smart enough to realize you don't need one.

Re:Smart people (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173660)

>>>smart enough to realise (and have the restraint)

For me it's not high IQ, but "restraint" certainly has a lot to do with it. I don't see the need to spend ~$600/year for an internet-capable smartphone when my "dumb" phone can be had for $0.00 a year. (I only get billed when I use it - which is rare.)

Similarly I don't have cable TV. I used to when it was a decent price ($400/year) and Sci-Fi actually played sci-fi, but since the price skyrocketed to $900..... forget it. I put-up an antenna and now get 40+ channels for free.

Re:Smart people (-1, Troll)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173726)

For me it's not high IQ,

No shit sherlock

but "restraint" certainly has a lot to do with it. I don't see the need to spend ~$600/year for an internet-capable smartphone when my "dumb" phone can be had for $0.00 a year. (I only get billed when I use it - which is rare.)

Similarly I don't have cable TV. I used to when it was a decent price ($400/year) and Sci-Fi actually played sci-fi, but since the price skyrocketed to $900..... forget it. I put-up an antenna and now get 40+ channels for free.

Why don'y you SHUT UP freakin' troll? I'm tired of hearing about how CheapAss you are with your $0.00/month bills. If you're dso damn poor go get a job you ,lazy SOB!
I'm going to -1 mod you down so hard you'll never be able to post again.

Re:Smart people (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173686)

Some people are smart enough to realise (and have the restraint) that you don't need to be connected all the time; that it's actually healthier not to be.

And, as much as I have no desire to be connected all of the time and don't have a smart phone ... cost is also a big factor.

My wife and I have two land lines, long distance plans, two fairly basic cell phones, digital TV, internet, plus the rental of my wife's PVR. Adding two smart phones to that would take our bill of close to $300 to close to $400 every month.

I'm just not willing to pay what it costs to have a smart phone. The gouge me enough for all of the other services already.

Re:Smart people (1)

mlush (620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173716)

If I had a smart phone I'd be less connected, because I'd forget to charge it every day and it would run flat when I actually needed it. My dumb phone needs charging every couple of weeks, so there is plenty of opportunity to notice its feeling a bit hungry and feed the poor thing. My last phone was 3G. battery life was great when in the city... but when coverage is poor (where I live) it spent all its time looking for a signal and ran flat in 2-3 days

Re:Smart people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173744)

Some people are also smart enough to spell realize correctly. You are apparently not one of them -- probably because you use a dumbphone.

Just don't need one. (5, Insightful)

ckblackm (1137057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173200)

I use the phone to make calls and send texts. I don't have a need for the added features of the "smart" phone, and can't justify the extra expense for the new toy or it's higher cost data plan.

Re:Just don't need one. (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173362)


There is no middle ground (from my perspective). You either go “dumb phone” or all out.

I imagine there are a lot of people like myself, who have no desire to be connected every moment of the day. I have a computer at home, and a computer at work... no need for a computer between those points.

I’d love to be able to quickly look something up or use GPS/google maps on the odd occasion, but wouldn’t use it often enough to justify $70 a month, which here in Canada seems to generally be the minimum. That’s just too much money for something I might use once or twice a month.

As for the whole status symbol thing... good grief. Maybe in certain parts of the population or certain ages but even when I was in school I don’t remember any of this status symbol garbage. People got popular by other means (what music they listened to, doing and selling drugs, etc). And if your out of school.. get a life!

Re:Just don't need one. (2)

MattSausage (940218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173486)

I'd wager cost is a MAJOR reason. Who has 300 bucks to spend on a phone, then 50 -70 bucks a month for a data plan when I can keep my 30 a month unlimited text and coast to coast calling, and get a phone for free every year? I'm sure if I actually got one one day I'd be addicted for life, but until then... no thanks until the price comes down.

Re:Just don't need one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173364)

higher cost data plan


Who wants the overly expensive data-plans whilst also having to worry about hidden limits on "unlimited"?

I have a company-provided smartphone (with "unlimited" data plan) - but if my company wasn't footing the bill, I'm not sure I'd have a "smart" phone.

Re:Just don't need one. (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173370)

Exactly. If the data plans didn't cost and arm and a leg, and you KNOW they'll never lower the pricing, I'd consider it.

Re:Just don't need one. (1)

TMB (70166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173454)

What are these texts of which you speak? ;-)

(seriously, I really don't understand the point. Why text instead of send an email, which doesn't have a character limit???)

Re:Just don't need one. (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173598)

In an article discussing how "dumb"-phones are way more popular than smart-phones, you don't understand the value of texting? You are an incredible idiot, whose idiocy knows no bounds. Really.

Re:Just don't need one. (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173618)

Pricing and phone capabilities.

AT&T gets $5 a month for the limited SMS plan that gives you 400 or 500 messages a month. That plan can be used from the dumbest of dumbphones. Dumbphones always have an easy SMS interface built in to the address book.

AT&T gets $15 a month for "Data Unlimited for non-Smartphones". That plan can be used from any phone that supports sending and receiving email. I've had my share of dumbphones, and few of them are really as good at email as they are at SMS.

Sure, if you already are dropping $25+ a month on a data plan it makes sense to use your data and send emails or IMs. But for dumbphone users, it's still cheaper to handle occasional text communication via SMS.

Re:Just don't need one. (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173652)

I don't have my laptop with me or online the whole day; and people tend to see texts a lot sooner than mails.

Re:Just don't need one. (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173490)

Same. My 'dumbphone' also has a torch, FM radio and a few games, but I wouldn't miss them if it didn't. The most attractive feature is the week+ long battery life.

Re:Just don't need one. (1)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173600)

For some people, like me, it's the exact opposite. I rarely use my phone to make calls, maybe 5 minutes a month. For a phone call I have to stop what I'm doing, it's a huge and wasteful context-switch. Send me an IM message or an email, I can handle those asynchronously.

Re:Just don't need one. (2)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173712)

3 or 4 years ago, I had the same mindset you have now. I don't expect my post to sway your direction either way.

In a recent experience with my Android while shopping I was able to look up a ton of information about the wireless routers I was looking at while at a brick and mortar store. I was able to determine which one's were a best fit for running DD-WRT and a wealth of other information. I was also able to determine who in my local area had the item for sale cheapest.

Yes, I could have done this from home before departing but the thought of using DD-WRT jumped in my head while out and about.

Re:Just don't need one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173728)

still have a dumb phone. hit my 'new every 2' date a year ago, and am still on month to month. Why? any non-dumb phone worth upgrading to would require me to add ~$30 per month per line to my current plan, and my current dumb phone is just as good as any newer dumb phone. With 2 lines, they're gonna have to give me a real reason to get a different phone. with fees, I'm currently average ~$35/month per line or so with a corporate discount on the main line. 10 years ago, I paid about $30/month per line. now, I have a few more minutes now, but not that much. And that includes WAP (still billed as minutes). I've checked 2 or three times, and they don't have a plan/phone combo that would be worth me changing without paying more. Bring a smartphone down into my sub-$40/month/line (including all taxes and fees), and I'll think about it. Maybe.

In praise of the dumbphone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173202)

and on fox news. Who'da thunk it?

Price (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173208)

“And they certainly don’t want the additional monthly bill,” which can cost upwards of $30-50 extra, depending on the web service.

That's it. I held out until a year ago. I preferred my candy bar Nokia with $24/mo. Now I'm on a DROID with $77/mo cost. And that's with a 25% discount from my employer! Trust me, if I lost my job or found myself in hard times this would be the first thing to go. Unfortunately I'm in a two year contract -- yet another aspect that should scare you.

I predict dumbphones will continue to dominate until the major carriers stop this ridiculous pricing model. In my eyes, my DROID is waste -- albeit enjoyable and convenient. It's very hard to convince me that there is a $50 dollar per month difference in what these devices do on the carrier's network.

Re:Price (1)

itwbennett (1594911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173358)

I agree. It's all about the "ridiculous pricing model". I may reconsider when smartphone data plans are bundled in with Internet, phone, cable TV. Until then, I'll do my Internet-enabling on my laptop and calling on my dumb phone (which, btw, is prepaid and hardly ever used). Sorry, AT&T, Verizon.

Not getting any cheaper either (1)

J-1000 (869558) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173410)

I had a "smart phone" (T-Mobile Sidekick) when owning one only meant a $20 add-on cost to your existing plan to get unlimited data. These days they cap you for that price, and with evolutionary higher data rates you hit that cap much faster.

Re:Not getting any cheaper either (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173542)

I had a "smart phone" (T-Mobile Sidekick) when owning one only meant a $20 add-on cost to your existing plan to get unlimited data. These days they cap you for that price, and with evolutionary higher data rates you hit that cap much faster.

I still get unlimited data and it only costs me $10 a month. I'm on Sprint. See, the reason T-Mobile is able to charge you $20/mo for capped data is because morons like you continue to pay it. Surely your contract has expired at least once since you used a Sidekick. Why on earth did you not leave them?

Please don't take offense to be called a moron. You are in good company. I've done some really stupid things in my time to make me a bigger moron that paying $20/month for capped data. But still, staying with a company and paying more while someone else offers the same thing or better for less is pretty stupid.

Re:Not getting any cheaper either (2)

whitehaint (1883260) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173740)

Often it is about coverage. I live in south Dakota and Verizon is the only one with coverage dang near everywhere so if we want cell coverage out in the sticks we are stuck. however I agree to a point with if you pay it they will charge. 30 bucks a month for unlimited data. Data is digital, is 1 or 0. Voice is digital, is either 1 or 0. Difference?

Re:Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173414)

I was on an AT&T contract for over 10 years until a year ago I dropped the contract. I started having trouble about four years ago and I was even dumb enough that when they seemed to have their act together I resigned for 2 years. 13 / 15 of the last bills I received were incorrect including hundreds of dollars a month in data usage on a phone that had data blocked. THey claimed I was unblocking it, using data, and re-blocking with a straight face.

We tested several pre-paid companies and now do pre-paid. $35 / month X 2 (I'm married) means $70 a month. I might be able to do better (especially with discounts due to my employer), but not having a contract means customer service may not be polite but they'll fix issues. If not, we leave (already did it about 2 monthes in on the first company; been with the current one for over a year) Unfortunately, that means no smart phone for me. I'm interested in them, would probably like having one, but I can't justify the cost and I definitly can't justify the hassle of another contract.

Re:Price (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173416)

Exactly. The requirement to have a data plan at a much higher rate, as well as a 2-year agreement with a very high termination fee is scary to most people if they really think about it. Two years is a long time to be paying that much.
There are some ways to go month-to-month, but people don't like the higher upfront costs for some reason, and the carriers don't make it very easy to do.

Re:Price (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173670)

My cousin is on a month-to-month plan with T-Mobile. She bought the phone from them on credit, basically. She pays something like an extra $20/mo for 2 years to pay off the phone. The total cost of the phone (~$480) is comparable to what the phone costs with a subsidy from any carrier. I believe she has the Galaxy S, or whatever T-Mobile calls their version of it. But, the key is that she has no contract. If she cancels, she's still on the hook for the phone, but she could theoretically stop paying for data.

Re:Price (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173464)

Unfortunately I'm in a two year contract -- yet another aspect that should scare you.


With phones like the Nokia 5800s going for $250 (unlocked) off Amazon.com and not needing a data plan at all, I'm still amazed anyone wants to get into a multi-year commitment for a phone unless they have some specific need for a platform.

Once you drop the $250 on it, you have something with the call plan pricing of a dumbphone and the capabilities of a smartphone (as long as you're OK with only getting data via WiFi), standalone GPS with voice navigation, music player, and all the other gewgaws you expect on a smartphone.

Hell, even if you want a dumbphone you can get unlocked units in the $40-60 range ($100 less than the dumbphone ETF). And they don't have the stupid "media access" buttons that can be pressed so easily to put a buck on your monthly bill.

I understand the pricing difference is a lot higher for the really-high-end phones, but if you just want some extra capabilities there are tons of decent unlocked phones out there that are quite capable. Plus, of course, there's always the used market if you pick a phone that's locked to the carrier of your choice.

Re:Price (1)

Mascot (120795) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173480)

How is that a relevant comparison? When on a contract you've typically put down very little for the phone, and a significant amount of the monthly bill is down payments on the phone itself. To figure out what those extra 50 are paying for, you'd have to compare what's included in each subscription when it comes to minutes and such, as well as the cost of the phone itself.

I prefer to buy my phones separately myself. I'd rather pay for the phone and subscription individually, instead of locking me into contracts where I can read from the small print I'm barely saving anything at all on the cost of the phone anyways.

Re:Price (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173508)

This is why I don't want a smart phone.
If I could get a Data plan that didn't cost much if I didn't use it much, maybe.

Currently I pay $20/mo for 200 minutes + VM + CID (no text or data)

Most/All Phone Sharks* in Canada will not offer data service without a contract.

*Phone Sharks: Hey, it fits. A loan shark has punitive service charges. So do Phone companies. The CRTC Mob boss skims off the top with taxes.

Re:Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173552)

This is the reason I have not bothered with a smart phone. I have other devices already that do all the secondary functions of a smart phone. Sure I have to wait until I am near a Wi-Fi spot to do it, but I can wait, nothing is so important that it has to be done now. My problem is that it is getting harder to not get a smart phone. The providers in my area are offering fewer "dumb" phones each year and if you buy a smart phone you have to buy a data plan, you cannot just opt not to use the phone as just a phone, there is no way to turn off the 3G functionality. The really sad thing is that once dumb phones are no longer available at all the cost for service will not change. It will just become a default rate for having a cell phone, so instead of paying 30-50 a month for just cell service you will have to pay 70+ or go without any kind of cellular service.

Re:Price (1)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173702)

I fully agree. I know plenty of tech savvy people who still use dumb phones. They simply chose not to take on that expense. It's not even the gadget cost, it's the monthly plan cost and contract.

I only made the move when my company blocked all personal email accounts along with most of the internet. Since I work for a DoD contractor, I can't get my work email outside of the office, either. So it effectively cut off my main form of communication with people. I got a BlackBerry. Since then, I've moved onto a Nexus One. Same data plan...

It's cost me thousands of dollars over the years. While I certainly enjoy the convenience and extra features, I do wish I'd found a better way to keep things simple and cheap, because I can't go back.

$100/mo vs $10: No Brianer (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173754)

Pay as you go with light usage averages under $10 a month for me.

Cheapest smart phones with a plan are roughly $100/mo, plus a 2 year contract. You have to either be pretty addicted or pretty dumb to want that.

When they get around to letting me buy a gigabyte for $5-10 bucks as a pay as you go I might consider it, but right now the data plans are psychotic, the contract terms are draconian, and the non-subsidized prices are insane.

smart or dumb? (5, Insightful)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173212)

“I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.” - Bjarne Stroustrup, the designer and original implementer of C++

Re:smart or dumb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173388)

He did the same thing to C with templates.

Re:smart or dumb? (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173424)

Yeah, that. And it's the UI on the smartphones; most of them just plain suck for anything but texts and maybe checking the weather. OK, playing games. Maybe if you have little fingers like my kids; but an older guy that's got big hands - the smartphones are just a big exercise in frustration.

I have 4 dumb phones in the family for $100/mo. I can't even get a single smart phone for that.

Re:smart or dumb? (-1, Troll)

littlewink (996298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173564)

And I wish he had thought as much about programming languages as he does about computers and phones.

It's simple... (2)

kannibul (534777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173216)

You have to pay for internet service to a smart phone, some people (such as myself) see that as a waste of money, when I have internet at home, and the smart phones/plans don't allow tethering without a jailbreak (ie, put you at risk for losing internet or your whole phone)

Maybe no choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173326)


What’s more, cell phone carriers may eventually abandon dumbphones altogether, thanks in part to the more lucrative data plans they now sell, which are often required to use nicer devices -- even if consumers don’t want the pricey mobile Internet on their phone.

First of all, I shop based upon plans - NOT phones. Buying a phone and then plan is dumb thing to do as all those iPhone folks who got stuck with shit AT&T service in their respective areas. PEDANTS: Yes, I know some iPhone users had good service with AT&T, but it proves my point that you got to shop.

Second, I just want basic phone service with caller ID without having to answer the phone: no cameras, internet, music players, video players, etc... Last time I checked, those weren't available for the carrier that has decent service in my area.

So, I have no cell phone. Fuck it.

Re:It's simple... (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173558)

I just don't percieve a need for a smart phone in my families daily life. I can't even take a dump phone to my place of work. I live very close to work and 98% of my life is spent either at home or at work. Why would I pay for an over priced dataplan 12 months a year that could possibly prove useful 2% of the time.

It's Hard to beat "Really Cheap" (1)

LeftHanded (160472) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173234)

Although my wife has an Android phone, I make do with a Tracphone $15 special I got. It's definitely a "dumb" phone, but I don't text, and rarely make calls. I use an iPod Touch, and that is enough for a portable pocket computer; I only sometimes miss the work anywhere of a 3G device. Would I like a smart phone? Sure. Do I want to pay for two people's voice+data plans? Nope. I'm betting that many others are in the same boat.

Obvious (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173240)

You can get a dumb-phone for a tenth of the price of the average smart-phone.

Re:Obvious (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173404)

This is soo it.

I pay $7/month for my tracfone while some of my coworkers are paying over $70/month for their android or iphone. Sure, they can play nice games and shit when on break. Is that truly worth over $750 a year extra? I think not. Not even close.

I'm sure there are at least a few readers here today that read $750+ extra per year and realize how foolish they have been... but a week from now they will have forgotten. Most people are bad with money.

Stupid article (2)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173248)

Phones run on a 3-4 year life cycle, because that is what people's contracts on North American plans run at. 3 years ago Android was a pile of crap and the iPhone was quite expensive.

3 years from now everyone in that 75% will have a smartphone, if for no other reason than the fact that "dumb phones" won't even exist anymore. Android is shipping on bargain-basement $99 and under phones nowadays.

Re:Stupid article (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173316)

I have never heard of a 3-4 year contract. Everyone in America that I've ever met has either a 1-year or 2-year contract.

Even if Android is shipping on $99 and under phones, there's a lot of people who have no desire to spend $360 per year on data for their phones. Where do those people fit in? You can't get a smartphone without the data, because of course all that future revenue offsets the subsidized handset price. I think there will absolutely still be a market for traditional phones, both from people who don't desire a smart phone and those who can't afford (or choose not to blow that much money on) a smartphone.

Re:Stupid article (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173374)

Will I be able to get that Android phone for free (with contract) and without having to pay extra for a data plan? Actually will I be able to get two Android phones for free? Three months ago my wife dropped and broke her phone. Our contract had expired, so we went into the closest store for our provider. Picked out the cheapest phone that was satisfactory, turns out that since we were out of contract we were eligible for some discounts that made them free. I was really tempted to get a smartphone, but none of them were clamshell design. I like being able to close my phone so that none of the buttons are exposed (except the volume), that way I don't have to worry about pocket dialing someone.

How about: (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173266)

Because it costs less than a few hundred to replace?
There isn't a massive 4" touch screen just waiting to crack.
Without said screen they're much smaller.
They don't need charged daily.

My Nokia 1100 [freshphonenews.com] was hands down the best phone I ever owned. Very tiny, nearly indestructible, easy to read screen, T9 prediction was pretty good and it had the best 'feature' on any phone, an actual LED flashlight, I think I charged it once or twice a week.

Now that I'm on Verizon, I wish they had made a CDMA version.

To be (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173456)

"They don't need charged daily."

To be charged. Please tell me that English isn't your first language.

battery life (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173268)

It's nice to not have to charge your phone EVERY day.

XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173284)

Dumbphones works, Bitches.

Re:XKCD (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173334)

On Christmas Day I was visiting relatives. My brother spent the entire time on his phone, texting and surfing the Internet. I really wanted to punch him in the head. You don't need to be online ever waking minute.

Norway (1)

Sven-Erik (177541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173298)

In Norway with its 4,5 million inhabitants, in 2010 50% off all mobile phones sold (2,5 million phones) was a smartphone. And they expect it to climb to 70% this year.

Some of us aren't addicted to the internet (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173300)

Not everyone needs 24/7 internet access wherever they go. Not everyone wants it either. But since smartphones are pretty much making PDAs obsolete, there won't be much of a choice in a few years. Hopefully then the data prices will be trivial.

Cheap,reliable and they allow making calls/texting (1)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173304)

And that's exactly what most people expect from their mobile phones.

Owning a smartphone still requires a non-zero amount of computer literacy skills.

No... It doesn't... Really... 0 is fine... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173718)

Owning a smartphone still requires a non-zero amount of computer literacy skills.

USING a "smartphone" might require a non-zero amount of computer literacy - but only if by using you mean "using to full extent of its hardware and software capabilities".
To own it, you simply need to claim it your own - and be prepared to back that up in some way. By a way of a receipt or very quick feet.

Thing is... smartphone is an "appliance" that you can also use as a computer.
If you know how to use a regular non-rotary phone - you know how to use the phone aspect of the smartphone.
If you know how to use a point-and-shoot camera - you know how to use the camera aspect of it.
If you know how to use a digital video/music player - you know how to play music/videos on a smartphone.
As long as you are familiar with the use of the appliance it is emulating - you know how to use that aspect of the phone.
If you want to install and/or setup applications and change specific hardware/software settings - THAT is where the non-zero computer literacy comes in.

Just the other day I was asked by someone to help them with logging onto Facebook with their "smartphone".
She had that phone for some time now, but she couldn't log in with it to Facebook. It turns out, she couldn't figure out how to type in her e-mail address.
On her computer, she just clicks the bookmark - that I had to set up for her.
At the same time, her phone (and her Facebook account) is full of photos, messages, music etc.

Oh... sure... She OWNS a computer. But it could just as well be a typewriter/TV/chat-machine combo for all she cares.
Since it's a laptop, she can even simply put it on standby by simply closing it. Kinda like the way you don't actually turn off the TV - you just put it on stand-by.

Simple, expendable, and small (1)

Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173308)

That's TFA's answer to the question posed by the title. Smart phones seem to be getting smaller. A few more years, and we'd probably get to the expendable part. But simple? Somehow I get the feeling that "smart" is the antithesis of "simple".

i thought i was the only one (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173310)

if i had all the money it costs per month for one of these phones, i would uhm, probably use it to buy food and clothes.

Well now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173336)

The smartphone user-base might be restricted by two things: cost and intellect!

Try and buy one (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173338)

I'm in the market for a dumb phone or two right now. Ever try to buy one? The market has fragmented into two: smartphones (which earn the carrier huge fees every month), and dirt-cheap phones they can give away for free. There are no more nice, well-made 'dumb' phones like the Nokia 8800.

Of course, even those free dumb phones aren't really 'dumb' any more - they can all text, have still cameras and often video ones, play music, and many can do simple web stuff and access Facebook. They aren't really dumb, they are just lacking the ability to download apps.

Re:Try and buy one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173520)

I noticed the same thing. With T-Mobile you get a huge choice of smartphones, several for free with a new contract. But for dumb or "feature phones" there's maybe 3-4, and those they usually charge for because you're probably not getting a data plan.

You can get unlocked dumbphones from amazon at a fairly reasonable price, sometimes used but also new. Then go on a monthly or pay-as-you-go plan and ditch the early termination problem. That's my plan for when my beat-up Samsung T429 dies.

Re:Try and buy one (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173714)

I'm happy with my Nokia 1661. The only special features are a flashlight (quite useful) and FM radio reception (never ever use it). No camera, no WiFi, no Bluetooth. Pay €40, pop in a sim card, and go. Battery life of about a week, and it phones and texts.

Oh, and I get to wittily retort to iPhone users that I could buy 15 of these phones for the cost of their phone, and I can't even "hold it wrong"!

They're phones... (1)

Krakadoom (1407635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173360)

Because the primary use of a phone is making calls and smartphones are bulky ugly things with terrible battery life. Honestly if I could find a good simple lightweight phone with long battery life I would buy it in an instant - but now I'm stuck with the SE X10 mini pro, which doesn't really have any of those things. I'm not inclined to walk about with a 4" screen in my pocket and I presume a lot of people feel like that.

good servant, bad master (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173366)

I control my dumbphone. However, in Soviet Russia ...

Besides, why trust all of your personal and business data to little object which is so easily lost?

Dumb phone for me! (1)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173384)

My wife has an iPhone. She really benefits from reading e-mail on the go, and the mapping anywhere. She's a doula (professional birth coach) and mother of two young kids, so information on the go is important.

I need to be able to text during the day and place the occasional emergency phone call, rarely even once a month. I don't want to drop more than $50 to buy it, and I want to minimize my monthly fee (currently $15 above my wife's plan). My phone is way more than I need, and it was the freebie that AT&T was offering. I like T9 text entry, that's a nice extra feature. If I could drop games, applications, MediaNet and music and de-clutter the home screen, I'd like my phone even more. Yes, I want fewer features. Of course, I also like my iPod Touch, mostly for Safari and Facebook, but only within WiFi range. My biggest wish, however, is that AT&T would have a separate plan for people who want to actually buy a phone and not get the price amortized over the life of the plan.

I'll tell you why dumb phones dominate... (3, Interesting)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173400)

Smart phone: $200 to $700
Data capable plan: $120 to $250 monthly

Dumb phone: $50 to $100
Simple plan: $40 to $80 monthly.

Um, what the fuck, do these phone companies think we're all multimillionaires?

Re:I'll tell you why dumb phones dominate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173548)

My data capable plan: 15EUR a month for 2GB of data, 2K texts and 60 minutes of calling

Where do you get those numbers?

Re:I'll tell you why dumb phones dominate... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173584)

Every cell provider I have ever contacted in the U.S., where else?

Re:I'll tell you why dumb phones dominate... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173750)

where do you live?

'round here it's more like:

Smart phone: 200..600 euro
Data capable plan: 10..30 euro monthly

Dumb phone: 0..100 euro
Simple plan: 1..15 euro montlhy

(netherlands that is..)

I've actually had an prepaid dumbphone for 9,95 with 10 euro of credit on it.

Why? (1)

Alicat1194 (970019) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173402)

1) They're cheap
2) They're simple
3) They're harder to break
4) From a business standpoint, your security guys and general staff don't need an expensive smartphone
5) No huge data charges
6) They last forever
7) They can go a week+ on a single charge

And they're just the ones I could think of off the top of my head. Not everyone needs or wants a smartphone.

Most functions are unwanted (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173408)

Most people don't need or want 24*7 internet connections wherever they are. For most people access to the internet is like access to a calculator, or a dictionary - sometimes its handy, but most times you don't need it. To carry a calculator around with you the whole time, and to be constantly fiddling with it ... well, you can imaging the sort of mental disorder than onlookers would think you had.

So while having a phone is handy - press buttons, talk to real people - the same is not true for a smartphone. The inconvenience of it's size and the complexity of it's functions make it more of a burden, especially if you have the mental resources not to need constant entertainment or distraction.
And on top of that (to borrow a phrase from Mad Dogs, Sky TV) "nothing of any significance has ever been typed with thumbs".

New phones break so easily (1)

hsoft (742011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173420)

It seems like everyone around me have to replace their phone every 6 months. I'll stick with my indestructible nokia 3310 thanks.

It's All About Power (1)

clawhound (811481) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173432)

The #1 reason that I avoid smart phones is standby time. I rarely use my phone. I don't take care of it. It's there so that the wife can call me. The current crop of smartphones eat power. I simply will not take care of a phone that runs down in a few days. That does not suit my needs. A phone without power can't do it's one and only job - be a phone.

Price. (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173434)

I still happily use my Samsung flip phone and will simply replace the battery when it begins to get weak (still going strong 4 years now). I'm an IT guy and would love to have a great smartphone, but I refuse to pay the insane costs to do so. We are talking *thousands* of dollars over the course of just two years! I make a very good living and I refuse to spend my money that way, it blows my mind that every tween and minimum wage-earning person has one. I was able to take an amazing vacation to Grand Cayman Island last year for *less* than a smartphone plan would have cost me. People just don't think about the actual costs and blindly pay. Being able to update my Facebook status 24x7 is not better than 2 weeks on a beautiful beach snorkeling with cool fish and stingrays.

When they get it down to $40/month for voice and data (and not some paltry amount), I'll own one.

Checklist (1)

Skuto (171945) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173436)

1) Cheap? CHECK
2) Can sit on it without hurting ass or phone? CHECK
3) Can drop it out of shirt pocket many times? CHECK
4) At least one game? CHECK

and last but not least:

5) Can make phone calls easily? CHECK

Many smartphones fail 2 or 3, some fail 5. Most dumbphones get it right.

And it is a problem because? (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173438)

I see it as nice example why there won't be dominating form of computing and communication. People are different and have different needs of communication. 'Dumphones' works for most of people, I have smart one because I *want* to do something additionally - like browsing web or reading emails. It is free market, consumer choice based at it's best. My last dumphone - Benq produced Siemens S75 - was with me for 4 years. It was abused, it fell, were beaten uncounted times. But it still worked. I had to retire it after all power supply cables were gone and as Siemens phone line (even as Benq) were long gone, I made a move to Android. And even there, most important factors why I enjoy my HTC Wildfire it's superb integration of phone basic functionality - calls and messages within Sense/Android UI.


Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173442)

Go anywhere in the far east and try to even find a dumbphone. Everyone and their grandma over there is packing a smartphone, as an alternative to a PC. Most of them run BREW, the most popular OS you've never heard of.

Really, the North American market is a niche.

Nice toy, but... (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173448)

I really don't need it and a cheap dumb phone is fine for me. If I got one just for the bigger screen I am forced to have a data plan I don't want. Why should I watch videos on a tiny screen? There are actual big TVs now. Why am I paying for home Roadrunner and then paying AGAIN for net access on a phone? And then the hardware becomes obsolete in 2 years? It's just idiotic. I sometimes wonder who is paying for smart phones that kids use. If it's parents, they need to wise up. If kids are using a good chunk of their own paychecks for a phone, this is a waste. The only reason to have one is if someone at a party asks you where the best Bosnian restaurant in Stockholm is. You can whip out Google on your phone and everyone will say,"Ooooooo".

Had a smart phone for 12 hours... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173466)

I had a smart phone for 12 hours before I returned it to the store and got the el-cheap-o.

Smart phone was too big for my pockets.
Too hard to dial. No buttons. I don't have time to look at the phone, and carefully dial with 2 hands.
Too fucking complicated.
Too expensive.
Too easily damaged.
Can't hold it between my ear and shoulder

My current phone is whatever Sprint's free phone is. It's a great phone. It makes calls. It texts if I'm feeling fancy. It's fast and easy to use.
I think the whole smart phone thing is really silly. If I want to play games and email and all that, I've got a cheap-o laptop.

$160 total for 5 yrs of service + phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173510)

Here's why I don't have a smartphone,
$160 total for 5 yrs of service, including the phone.

I have a pay-as-you-go phone. It was $20 and included some minutes that expired in 90 days. Before they expired, I bought $100 more minutes - doing that changed the plan from 90 day expiration to 365 day expiration.
Every year following that, I put $10 more in minutes on the SIM card.
20 + 100 + 10 + 10 +10 + 10 = $160.

I'm thinking of getting a new phone for $20. Er, probably not. I don't need it. BTW, 10 days of standby time on the current phone. What smart phone can do that?

If I had a smart phone - even if it were free, that would still be just 3 months of service under the data plans available here.

Smart phones are for dumb consumers - or people with more money than they need or for people with a business requirements for the phones.

Smart phones are only smart for the cellular companies.

Owner myself. (1)

Jauffre (1987148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173516)

I have a dumbphone and i am not afraid to use it. Its cheap and it actually can make calls.

Who gives a shit? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173532)

I have a Blackberry from my employee. I have unlimited data and voice package for business and personal use, yet I couldn't give a damn about the phones.

The voice is the same as 10 years ago and the Internet connection is the same rubbish it was ~5 years ago (first time I tried 3G). I don't see any point in apps, since I have access to optical line both at home and at work.

Unless the Internet connection improves (and it won't anytime soon) I don't see any reason to own a smart phone.

Re:Who gives a shit? (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173742)

You shouldn't steal your employees phones :-P

Pre-paid (2)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173540)

Not everyone wants to join sea org for the pleasure of owning an iPhone.

Easy choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173562)

I went shopping around for phones last year. The cheapest smart phone in my region was about $150 with a three year contract. A regular mobile phone which would play music, send texts, take pictures and maintain alarms, play games and store contacts was $20 with a one year contract. It was a pretty easy choice.

There is a market for really simple phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173602)

There are a few phones targeted at children and seniors. No features, big keys, big easy to read screen.

http://www.info4cellphones.com/just5-cell-phone-for-seniors.html [info4cellphones.com]

Who would have thunk that people want just a phone (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173612)

Data plans are simply too expensive. You can get a non-smart phone on a low minute plan for ~$30/month. The same thing with a smart phone is going to run double that per month.

They're clearly working at changing that by not offering nice non-smart phones.

My reasons (2)

Purpleslog (1645951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173658)

1) Cost. 2) I don't want to be "always-on" for everybody and everything that is connected.My cell phone is for my convenience, not for the convenience of others. I am an IT pro and have been on the Internet one way or another since 1984. Since I am not a day today SysAdmin anymore, I have a work Cell phone that Ionly have on during work hours. My personal cellphone is really an emergency only phone: a pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile phone.

"barely a quart of the market" (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173692)

They say that like it's a bad thing.

What percentage of the mobile market were smart phones two years ago?

Five years ago?

To have so many more people buying smart phones in such a relativley short amount of time is pretty amazing. What is even more amazing is that the current crop of smart phones has people using them like smart phones. Five years ago, I'd wager half the people that had "smart phones" didn't use the "smart" features but used them as a good old fashioned mobile phone and nothing more. (Crackberry users excepted.) But with the advent of iPhone and Androids, smart phone users downloading and using various apps has become ubiquitous behavior among smart phone users.

That's a paradigm shift happening right in front of our eyes.

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