The makers of cell phones would like you to know that you can do a lot more with your cell phone than just talk to people. You can text. You can go online and check your email. You can snap photos or take video. You can listen to music and watch TV clips, maybe even movies.
But when I asked you all what content you want on your cell phones, you overwhelmingly had one message for the cell companies: We just want to talk. All those bells and whistles are not what you’re looking for, and in fact, you’re already paying enough for cell service without the added extras.
One reader named PC, who blogs at NetFM, summed up what many of you said: “I just want my cell phone for what is was created: make calls.” But PC also liked the idea of convergence between cell phones and cameras. “Truly, I’d love having a digital camera that could also make phone calls,” PC wrote. “Cell phone cameras still aren’t as good as I would like.”
And Geraldine was all business when it comes to her cell phone.
“I use my phone for business, and I don’t need or want it to do anything more than calling and voice mail,” she wrote. “Cell phone service is already expensive, and I’m not interested in paying a premium for a fancy phone or extra services. I don’t need to be wired all the time. I already have a camera; I already have a computer. I don’t need to replicate that functionality in another device.”
Alonso seconded that emotion, and feels that converged devices don’t end up delivering the functionality he expects.
“Phones should be phones, cameras should be cameras, PDAs should be PDAs, etc.” he wrote. “I’m tired of all these gadgets that promise to do everything, but don’t do anything well. I use my phone to make calls, my computer to keep my schedule, and my iPod to listen to music. That’s it, I’m happy that way.”
Not everyone, however, believed that cell phones should just be for talking. Educator and blogger Phil Shapiro said he’d like to have RSS news feeds on his phone to keep track of info and get urgent text messages from family and close friends. Digital thinker and blogger Adam Simon had a novel thought: Rather than getting new content on his cell, he wanted access to all his other media from his computer or TV (similar to the Slingbox).
“[I want] access to the media I already have on my computer and my TiVo,” Simon wrote. “Honestly, I’ve already got more to read/watch/listen to than I have time for. Rather than pay $1.99 a download, I’d pay a hefty price ($10/month? $20/month if it’s really well executed?) to access all my content anywhere. But cellular carriers are used to charging piecemeal, and it will be hard to break them of that habit.”
A lot of you have pretty low opinions of your cell carriers and wonder whether all this new functionality is just a way to squeeze more money out of you. And that’s a global feeling, as Cao Kun from Shanghai, China, can attest.
“Across the globe, there is only one nature [for] a mobile phone operator: try its best to grasp bucks as much as possible out of the pocket of a subscriber,” Cao wrote, “[You get a] series of trail-blazing value-added services, which a subscriber who has signed up for one item of services or two is given mixed feelings of what he or she pays for: Is it worth paying and keeping up with what a mobile phone operator brags [about]?”
And you are not the only ones feeling unexcited about cell content. A recent survey of 1,001 Americans by RBC Capital Markets showed that 75% of respondents were not interested in watching TV or movies on their handhelds, while 69% weren’t interested in music on their cell phones.
James Pearce, who blogs for Moconews.net, wrote that the RBC survey shows that Americans might be slow to accept new content on their cell phones — until everyone else has it.
“To my mind this survey sounds a warning bell — not that Americans don’t want rich mobile content, but that a lot of them are unwilling to buy it any time soon,” Pearce wrote on the blog. “But they will once it becomes commonplace — when color screens were added to the phones most people said they didn’t want them, and now everyone does. The same can be said of the ability to change ringtones. And of cameraphones. The market will be there, it will just take a while to catch on after the technology is introduced… Besides, as myself and many others have pointed out, even if only 25% of people are interested in mobile TV, that’s 25% of a very large number.”
So you can talk all you want about not wanting to do more than talk on your cell phone. You’ll come around…