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Smartphones: A Social Analysis

November 18, 2010

In the early to mid 2000’s, God bestowed a device originally only meant for elites to us commoners.  These were of course smartphones.  Now I know there are more types than these, but in America there are three major players in the smartphone market; Blackberrys, iPhones, and Android Phones.  As soon as each of these phones respectively hit the market, a strange thing started to happen; certain social groups gravitated to certain phones.  This list is in no way comprehensive, but just a few of the observations I have made as far as which social groups choose which smartphones.  (The Argyle Life does not officially endorse one smartphone over another.  They all have their merits and flaws.)

Blackberry:

Old School Business Men

(I’m using the term old school lightly.)  The first Blackberry smartphone was launched in 2002.  The Blackberry was revolutionary in that it was the first smartphone that wasn’t overly (another term used lightly) complex to operate as some complained the Palm and Windows devices of the day to be.  The streamlined capabilities of the day-planning aspect of a Palm device, e-mail and web browsing of the internet, and the texting and calling of a cell phone made it a must for the business man on the go who maybe wasn’t the most tech savy person.  This fad took off and soon every major company was buying up hundreds of Blackberrys to give to their employees.  This isn’t so much the case now with the advent of newer types of smartphones but many still consider the Blackberry as the quintessential business phone.  They tend to be a trend among younger business men looking to impress their older bosses (aka their dads) because the older generation considers them God’s gift to Wall Street.  That’s brings us to the next topic of…

Business men who don’t know how to use a smartphone.

This is the group of people who either moved up the ladder later in life or thought “I’ll never use e-mail on my damn phone.”  For one reason or another, they decided or were forced to get a smartphone and they are absolutely terrified of the idea of touch screen (Yes I am aware that there are touch screen Blackberry’s.  They suck).  These are the people who take 20 minutes to send a text, e-mail or find a contact.  These are also the people who wear their Blackberry’s on their belt yet send 5 e-mails/texts a month… you know, your dad

Sorority girls

Im going to start this one off with a disclaimer.  (Yes, I know all of you sorority girls aren’t the stereotypical “OMG” girl with the valley girl accent.  However, stereotypes have to come from somewhere.  Let’s face it, about 90% of you are the same exact person.  So if you have a problem with this, you are one of the “different” ones or you need to take five, step back and look at you and your friends.  There is a pretty good article that makes fun of sorority girls here, or I’m sure you could find one pretty easily using the Googles.)  Sorority girls pick up some the absolutely weirdest fads.  Let’s take the UGG boot for instance.  Before it became the “stylish” boot it was today, it (in its same exact form) was an Austrailian and New Zealand sheep hearder’s boot.  Kind like how Timberlands used to actually be work boots.  So now lets look at the Blackberry… the quintessential business phone.  For some reason, this happens to be the smartphone of choice of your average Mid-Atlantic Sorority Girl.  Why this became the fad is anyone’s guess.  It could be they saw their dads using them at a young age and thought they were cool.  It could be that they themselves are not too technologically adept yet want to know when “OMG someone totally commented on my facebook picture.  I wonder which one it is… the one with all my friends with a hand on our hip before we went out on Friday night or the one with all my friends with a hand on our hip before we went out on Saturday night!!!”.  Or possibly their cutest girl in their sorority had one so they had to get one to be like her even though they talk shit about them behind their back.  Possibly it’s the easiest way of organizing weekly meetings at Panera (ok…daily meetings).  If anyone has more insight on this, I would love to know.

Sorority Posers

If there is anything more baffling than the sorority girl, it is the sorority girl poser.  These are the girls who will refuse to join a sorority, yet show all the traits as one who has been brain washed to do so.  This of course means that they own a Blackberry.  However, unlike the sorority girl it is fairly easy to peg why these posers have Blackberrys… and that is because sorority girls have them.  That brings us back to the bigger question… Why do the majority of sorority girls have Blackberrys?

Utilitarians

Now it may seem from the last few topics that I am anti-Blackberry.  This isn’t the truth.  In fact I think that they are wonderful phones for what they are meant to do.  That’s what brings be me to Utilitarians.  These folks want e-mail, day planning, internet, and a phone and they don’t want or need any fancy user interface, games, etc. getting in the way of that.  They take care of business and then put their phone back in their pocket.  They tend to be a more social human being because they don’t have any stupid apps they can play with instead of having a conversation with someone at a bar.  I commend these people as they embrace advanced technology yet don’t let it consume them.

iPhone:

Rich Folk

There’s no getting around it… with the phone, all the data plans and such, the iPhone is expensive.  Therefore, it makes for the perfect phone of people who want to show off their wealth, even if they are like the Blackberry folk who don’t even know how to use it.  All they want out of their phone is for the silver Apple logo on the back to catch the light just right so it shines in your eye.  That way, you will know… hey, that’s a rich dude.  Of course this is highly prone to back fire in the wrong neighborhoods.  These folk also look extremely stupid when pounding on their touch screens, scrolling through menu upon menu trying to make a call, but knowing how to work the phone is of no concern to them.  There are people you can pay for that.  As long as you know they are rich, all is right in the world.

Trendy Folk

Mac products tend to be on the cutting edge, be it fashion or technology.  Therefore they attract early adopters and people who want to look cool fairly easily.  This was very apparent when they iPhone first launched and there were lines of people who weren’t even sure if the technology would actually work well stretching for multiple city blocks.  Just like with the rich folk, these trendy folks chose the iPhone purely for image.  They might have spent their entire paycheck to get it, but damn it they are going to be the first person in their group of friends to have one for those first three months until the price goes down and Apple comes out with an upgrade.  That way they can say, “Oh, I have one of the originals” and be condescending to everyone else.  Kind of like how hipsters only use the orginial iPods and fill it with 1,000 songs of “bands you probably never heard of” or “demos before that band sold out”.  Damn hipsters.

Mac Nerds

I confess, even though I do not own an iPhone, I am a Mac nerd.  (Ready for this hipster-ish comment?) I got my Macbook Pro back in ’06 before everyone else started getting them (boom).  Just joking, I’m actually glad that more and more people are seeing the merits of Mac, specifically for their media editing capabilities.  These are the true Mac nerds.  People who work with video, make music or photo edit (no, taking a black and white photo but leaving one color in the photo does not qualify or make you an artist) either as a profession or as a hobby.  They tend to know their Mac’s inside and out and are generally the people you call when you need help color correcting in Final Cut or using noise reduction in Logic.  With all this knowledge of Mac systems, it is only logical that real Mac nerds have a phone that runs seamlessly with what they already know so well.  Yes, we are nerds… but we tend to be a little more social (or at least capable of being social) and friendly than your typical nerd.  But just as with every other awesome social group, there are posers.

Mac “Nerds”

Mac “nerds” don’t really know their Mac’s all that well… or in some cases at all. Yet they love them to death and tell everyone “You should really get a Mac, they’re so cool and easy!”  Their experiences with media on Mac’s are limited to their iTunes and iPhoto libraries and taking way too many photos in Photobooth.  Their primary uses for their Macs are going on Facebook and writing papers.  I’m going to say this once.  YOU HAVE NO NEED FOR A $2,000 COMPUTER IF THAT’S ALL YOUR GOING TO BE DOING ON THEM!  Yes, Macs are awesome.  You know what else is awesome? About $1,400 to buy other awesome stuff.  If you are not going to be working with media of some sort, you can do everything your doing on a PC for a lot less money.  If you absolutely NEED(see intense wanting) a Mac, at least save yourself the money and computing power that you have no need for and get a Macbook rather than a Macbook Pro.  I had a hard enough time asking my parents for a $2,000 dollar computer and I only do, lets see, Video, Audio, and Photo editing as well as Graphic Design for scholastic and professional media outlets.  Ok, rant over.  The reason why they want an iPhone is the same as the real Mac nerds except they will still go to a real Mac nerd if they can’t figure it out.

Android:

Real Nerds

The Android phone is extremely customizable.  So much so that you can physically alter the system code if you wanted to.  That’s why the Android system is extremely popular with real nerds.  They can write a program specifically for keeping score during their dungeons and dragon nights or, you know, other nerdy things.

People who want an iPhone but don’t want AT&T

My only experience with AT&T is in the Mid-Atlantic region, but I can tell you that their service sucks.  I had AT&T and could barely make calls within my own house.  Needless to say, we dumped AT&T for another more reliable carrier and we weren’t alone in doing so.  When the iPhone came out, it did attract some people back to AT&T but many were still turned off by the constant dropping of calls.  With a year or two after the iPhone’s release, Android phones started slowly creeping in to the market, finally reaching a major boom with the Motorola Droid series about a year ago.  Not to say that these phones aren’t attractive in their own right, but with capabilities similar to an iPhone while on more reliable networks these, phones answered many prayers (including my own).  I was originally one of the people who were constantly on Mac message boards looking for rumors of iPhones coming to other carriers, but now I am more than happy with my Android phone and wouldn’t give it up.

Congrats if you made it this far.  If you have any other suggestions for a new category or comments/criticisms, feel free to leave a comment.

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