Thursday, June 18, 2009

Smartphones help life work balance

In a previous post, I noted that smartphones sales have defied current market forces and sales have climbed, despite the ongoing recession. There are some obvious reasons for this, not the least of which is that cell phone contracts expire after two years, and conveniently for the carriers and and cell phone makers, is about the life expectancy of the average phone. Throw in a little bit of smartphone envy created by good marketing and you have the solid recipe for upgrading cell phones every two years.

You also have to look at how human beings are hard wired genetically. We have an inbred need to communicate, to be linked to our friends and family almost all the time.

A recent article in the Times noted that smartphone marketers have taken advantage of this impulse and smartphones have moved from a "nice to have" to "must have" for everyone from corporate corner office types to pre-teens wanting to be cool.

One of the byproducts of having a smartphone is anywhere, everywhere accessibility, and that's 24/7. In the same way that email, WiFi and the laptop made it possible to take your office almost anywhere, smartphones bring an even greater level of accesibility because you don't have to lug around a big laptop case or wait for the machine to power up. While some complain that accessiblity comes at a price because workers are expected to respond to email in more places and more often, I argue the opposite.

Smartphones give their users unlimited mobility. You don't have to lug around a laptop to review a critical email that means you can go to a kid's recital or soccer game without guilt. And downtime in doctors' offices or on commuter trains can be used productively.

If you watch current entertainment, there's a fallacy that Americans aren't supposed to be hard workers, the most successful people almost always are the hardest workers. That's one manifestation of the American dream that does hold. We live in a meritocrary, and smartphones aid workaholics in their quest to achieve some sembalance of a work life balance.

Now, if you want to talk about smartphones and their contribution to the digital divide, well that's the subject of another post.

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