Monday, May 21, 2007

In The Market For A Cell Phone?

Things You Should Ask Yourself

Cell phones are a luxury that has become almost a necessity. Ever since 9/11, the mobile phone industry has boomed in the US. While they've irritated the crap out of us, they've also proven to be inordinately useful as well.

So here are some things to consider before committing or jumping from company to company.

1. Why are you getting a mobile phone? Is it for personal or business use? How much time do you spend on the phone every day at home and at work? What is your best guesstimate?

2. Have you ever used a mobile phone? Do you know how mobile phone technology works or are you one of those people who operate on the "it's magic and I don't gotta understand it!" principle?

3. What do you need your mobile phone to do? Do you need "just the basics" or are you a gadget nut who likes the latest and greatest? If you like the latest and greatest" then # 4 is for you!

4. Do you have what it takes to support your phone? These days, a lot of cell phones (especially smart phones like Palm, RIM's Blackberry and HTC's line ups) require Windows-based computers and installation of supporting software applications on those Windows-based PCs. This is not a trick question because smart phones are not substitutes for computers and don't have the same capabilities computers do. Also these kinds of smart phones usually require that you pay extra for "add-on" features so that you can use the internet/chat/picture messaging/downloading functions of the phone. Some add-ons are specific to the family of handset models you choose.

If you got a Mac, then third party software may or may not be available, so you will probably have to hit up a generous friend who owns a PC on those occassions when you need to fix device issues and re-install or upgrade handset operating systems.
If you don't have a computer, for your own sake, don't buy a smart phone and then expect your carrier's tech departments to be able to fully support what you're trying to do with it -- they can't take full remote control and the things they can do remotely are limited. Besides, would you really want your carrier to get remote access to everything on your cell anyway?

5. Have you really read the manufacturer's limited product warranties and do you really understand them? Do you know that your mobile carrier is NOT the manufacturer of the cell phone you get (whether it is offered promotionally as a "free phone" or is one you pay part or full rate for)? That the product warranty is not with them, no matter how much or how little they may help you with your warranty related issues?

6. Do you understand that the sales people at the store cannot guess at every little question you might have and cannot anticipate all of your needs unless you spell them out carefully? Do you also know that the carrier is NOT entirely to blame when your unspoken questions lead to misunderstandings?

"Could I travel overseas with my phone? I"m thinkin about taking a trip" really isn't the same question or statement as: "I want to sign up for a service plan which includes, or has, with an add-on, international roaming. I also want a phone that can be used both in North America AND overseas in Europe AND Asia. What services do I need? "

"Sure, you can travel overseas and go everywhere you want with it! " is an answer you could hear and it's true. So far as it goes. Think about it. Yes/No questions posed as a hypotheticals to the average person seldom leads them to assume or to anticipate a more immediate need, want, or desire.


7. Are you willing to accept the limitations of mobile phone use?

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