The landline phone continues to lose luster with me. I much prefer my cellphone.
The voice quality of my cellphone can’t compare to my landline, but in every other respect the cellphone wins. My contact database is totally integrated on my cellphone. My landline phone doesn’t even know what a contact database is. I get emails on my cellphone, and phone numbers are hyperlinked so I can click and call them. Try that on a land line.
You get the picture. The cellphone rocks. The landline does not.
This weekend I wanted to send The Gotham Gal a text message. I couldn’t make a phone call without being rude. But a quick text message would have been fine. Only she was home, on a landline. And I knew she wasn’t on email. I wanted to text message the landline and have the phone beep alerting her to an incoming message.
The cellphone has conditioned me to behaviors that aren’t possible on landlines. And so I don’t want the landline anymore. I’ll take the reduced quality. What I really want is increased functionality.
The cellphone has “grown” Fred and virtually every other cellphone user (including yours truly) to a new platform of personal performance. It’s a push-pull platform effect. The cellphone transforms us, and we transform it, adding value back to the platform by extending its scope. Thus, the cellphone is no longer just a “phone.” It’s community, identity, fashion advisor, social action, social net, and much more. It delivers the freedoms we need to get things done—or to invent new ways of doing them.
The technology grows us, and we grow it in return.
Can carriers grow their customers?
Since brands begin where products end, one might think that cellphone carriers might step in with brand programs that would grow their customers beyond the technology arc of cellphones proper. They could use their brands to deliver additional forms of value. That might create major brand differentiation with long-term benefits.
Unfortunately, most carriers still radiate a landline ethos when it comes to brands. Their brands flourish in the fine print, where they happily corner customers with convoluted plans. That’s not growing customers; that’s trapping them. The first carrier to use its brand as something other than a punji pit will command the allegiance of cellphone users ready to do more. That would be a welcome advance.
UPDATE: Improving phone usability is a step in the right direction.
UPDATE 2: Edited headline for clarity, Original headline: How to grow customers: cellphones.
Photo: thefinned1, Flickr