Believe It or Not, 73 Percent Own 'Dumbphones'
Before you make fun of Mom's well-used Motorola Razr or taunt Grandpa for hanging onto that no-name, pay-as-you-go cell phone he picked up at Walmart, consider this: according to marketing researcher ComScore, 73 percent of the cell phone users in America use a traditional, or "dumbphone."
The iPhone, Android, and Blackberry crowd is in the distinct minority no matter how cool their users behave. If you want to fit in with America's center, you use what is more elegantly described as a "feature phone"—one that makes calls, has a few fancy ring tones, takes messages at a calling center, texts with the number keys, and might have some music playback. No apps.
With all the advertising wars focused right now between AT&T and Verizon and their versions of the iPhone, you'd think that half the population is carrying Apple's popular product. But it's not true. Actually, devices like iPhone, phones with the Android operating system, Windows 7, and BlackBerry together own barely a quarter of the market.
You just don't see the splashy ads for the "dumbphones," because carriers can't get a big markup for the phone. Oftentimes, they toss in the phone for free just to get a customer to sign for their cellphone service.
For many Americans, all the apps, the GPS-based restaurant-finding programs, the music libraries, the gizmos that read prices on products in stores (and then find cheaper alternatives), all this stuff is mind-bending and just too much to expect in a phone. They just want to make a call.
Those who like the simple phones also worry that they would break a smartphone, although they exaggerate in their minds how much a smartphone costs. (With a Verizon subscription a 16 gig iPhone is selling for $200, not the $500 some people were imagining.) And while some of the "dumbphones" are small and light, few realize that some smartphones have been tailored to slip into a jeans pocket quite nicely.Continued on the next page