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Friday, August 24, 2012

iPhone: Friend or Foe?

by Ellen Elwell
Readers of this blog know that I’m a major proponent of new technology and social media – with the exception of Facebook, of course. (See archived articles.) But when it comes to actual equipment purchases, I tend to be very thrifty. And when I do invest, I expect to get a lot - for a long time.

My reasons for not getting an iPhone (the “cons”).
I never considered anything other than an iPhone as my “smart” phone choice. However, I had lots of reasons for stalling – for years!

  • It’s expensive. No matter how you look at it, any smart phone is a very costly front-end and long-term investment! So my question was: Is there a significant Return on Investment (ROI)?
  • I’m not a “phone” person. I don’t make or get lots of calls, so why spend so much on a phone?
  • It’s difficult and time-consuming to learn. If a whole shelf at Barnes & Noble is dedicated to “how to” iPhone books, it’s pretty obvious that learning how to use it will take some time, right?
Why I finally did get an iPhone.
Ultimately, I decided to take the plunge – mostly because I’m in marketing and “mobile marketing” is growing in importance. Also, I lost my “regular” cell phone and the timing was theoretically right. And finally, I felt pressured to do it since just about everyone I know has one (the “what am I missing” principle). I promised myself, though, that if I only used the phone – not the other features and functions – I’d cancel the monthly charges and take a penalty.

After nearly a year. . .
Looking at the "cons" above, they remain the same for me. First, there's no doubt about it: the iPhone is costly. Second, I don't use it much as a phone. However, I now consider the “phone” part a very minor part of the iPhone’s value. Instead, I love its photo capabilities, twitter and email convenience, being able to save music and audio books in the “cloud” – and then access them from the many other “synced” iDevices in our household. (I’ll do another blog on the free “family sharing” capabilities iPhone offers.)

Finally, because I’m very slow, learning has been a nightmare – even worse than I expected. There is nothing “intuitive” about the device beyond placing phone calls and texting. Until I finally figured out how to connect and manipulate the iPhone through my computer and iTunes, my frustration level was indescribable. Tip: Never ever forget your iTunes password or type it in wrong because recovery is so painful!

. . . I love it!
Despite the pain, I’m happy I got and have my iPhone! Every single day, I gain more respect and passion for this powerful little engine. It provides so many unexpected, life-enhancing features (especially apps) that I’ll do a follow-up blog(s) about them. They fall into several categories: convenience, money-saving, entertainment and safety.

Summary: Investment vs. Value
I do believe that the iPhone can be worth the cost. But to be so, it cannot be viewed simply as a phone or a game/toy. Uncovering its real “assets” takes time (and more time) – which can be an even bigger investment than money. Further, learning is never-ending because software upgrades add more function (almost daily!).

As for actual “return on investment,” I’m uncertain. I’m still looking for ways that iPhone usage can actually generate business referrals or sales dollars. Now that I know how to use it, however, I’ll continue to puzzle this important piece of the equation!

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