You Don’t Have a Smartphone Yet? You’ve Got Lots of Company

By  |  Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:49 am

StartacSmartphones such as the iPhone, Palm Pre, and various BlackBerries are responsible for about 98% of all phone-related news, and if you live in a tech haven like the Bay Area, it’s easy to slip into the assumption that everyone has one. But a new survey from retail experts the NPD Group says that 28 percent of phones sold in the U.S. in the second quarter were smartphones. That’s up 47 percent over last year, but it still means that 72 percent of phones sold weren’t smartphones. They were the more basic (but increasingly powerful) phones known in the industry by a name that makes me gnash my teeth: “feature phones.”

All of which leaves me curious how many of you are still using a reasonably traditional phone, and how many have smartphones. (There’s no really good definition of what smartphones are–NPD says they’re ones “sold with their own operating systems”–but I’m going to say that they’re phones that allow the installation of third-party apps, and which usually have either a physical QWERTY keyboard or a touchscreen.)

Here’s a special two-part T-Poll:


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27 Comments For This Post

  1. Seumas Says:

    The only cell phone I’ve owned in my life is my Treo 650 that I bought almost four years ago. I occasionally use the Notes function on it, but that’s it. Nothing else. I don’t need to surf the web or play videogames or music. I have an ipod and a laptop for that. I just need a solid phone with great battery time and excellent talk quality. It’s nearly impossible to find such a thing these days since all that anyone seems to sell are “entertainment decides for twelve year olds that… oh, also happen to let you make phone calls”.

  2. robert grijalva Says:

    Been using a BB Curve for over 1.5 yrs…simply put it gives me the the expediency to communicate, network& research anywhere& anytime w/o cumbersome bags, cables or hardware.
    I could not imagine nor would I ever return to using just a “phone”

  3. Austin Divorce Lawyer Says:

    Using a smart phone is incredibly useful for anyone who needs to be wired on the go. I can’t imagine using a regular phone ever again.

  4. simfin Says:

    I have an INQ and it’s a wannabe smart phone. Great value and with SNAPTU isntalled it’s a great mobile twitter client

  5. motsnave (on twitter) Says:

    Not sure how it plays into the numbers but part of the percentage of “not smartphones bought” may be “free” phones given for signing up for another 2 years. The free phones do not include intelligence but some are tweet-compatible.

  6. Anne Louise Bannon Says:

    I seriously want a smartphone. Being able to check my email on my current traditional phone is a lifesaver for me. I’ve even used it to check traffic and my 30boxes account, plus a few others. But it is slow and clunky. A smartphone would make my life so much easier on so many levels. Ah, some day, some day.

  7. Peggy Says:

    I resisted the idea of a smart phone at first, but am now on my second. First was a Nokia N75 (actually a smart-ish phone), now an iPhone.

    For me, it is a matter of being able to surf, listen to my podcasts, receive tweets and make calls from a single device.

    I was starting to look like a total dweeb with my “utility belt” of mobile devices.

  8. Bud Man Says:

    I’ve had many smartphones over the years, including an early Palm Treo, recently a BlackBerry Curve and an iPhone; the latter two are really complementary but if I had to have just one of them all from now until whenever, it would be the Curve. I love having a real keyboard.

    There is a name for non-smartphones: dumbphones!

  9. Nikole Hahn Says:

    I do have a smartphone, but when my two year contract is done, I’m getting a regular phone. Loved its features but do not like the imposed rules of “Have to have” internet on it. I got the phone originally because of the word program, games, music, and organizer. So I decided to go back to a regular phone after contract gets expired and buy an old fashioned leatherbound organizer.

  10. fluffypinkbeyatch Says:

    Looks like your readers are as tech savvy as one would assume. I don’t think people without smart phones will know what they are missing until they get one. Before that they say “no, I don’t need all that!” and to that I say jealousy makes your head constipated.

  11. John Says:

    I think people who don't use smartphones are very much aware of what they are "missing" and they could really care less about it. Some really don't need the internet and apps.

    '"no, I don't need all that!" and to that I say jealousy makes your head constipated."

    How can that be jealousy? You're projecting and you're the one who sounds constipated. Shame, really.

  12. softballgirl78 Says:

    For now going off to college, I don’t think I need a smartphone. I am jealous of my friends iPhone, but I don’t see the need for her to have all the features. Once I enter into the corporate world however, then there might be a larger need for me to have one.

  13. Karma Doc Says:

    I love not having all the apps and such on a smart phone; I am a writer that uses his laptop for the rest of my communication needs. A regular cell phone is the only way to go!

  14. didta Says:

    i dont have a smartphone yet. most of smartphones are in a great size

  15. Morgan Says:

    Hi, I currently work for at&t and as of right now, over half of the phones we sell are smart phones. The majority being iphones, followed by the blackberrys. I never owned a smartphone until I worked in telecom, but now that I have one I am pretty sure I would not be able to return to life with a normal phone that can only text and recieve calls. its not so much a matter of necesity but convienance. Some people sit in front of a computer all day and really don’t NEED a device that can handle thier email, web browsing, apps, and everything else that comes with a smart phone. But being a full time student as well as a full time employee, having a smart phone has saved me several times when I have been in a bind and needed info off the internet. On my iphone, I search for real estate, download easy healthy recipies, entertain my clients children, and fascinate my grandfather by being able to pull up his churchs website right on my phone. Being able to have the music that I love with me at all times and the photos I cherish only a touch away is a priceless feature! not to mention the gas I save using my at&t navigator on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. All in all, I find its worth it to invest in an iphone that saves me time and money in other places. Plus, the iphone is so easy to use, I have 80 year olds who invest in it and love it! Totally worth it 🙂

    And p.s. random piece of information: this year the iphone became the most widely carried device in the US. Amazing considering it beat out the RAZR which was a regular phone, made by motorola and carried on almost every carrier nationwide – while the iphone is a smartphone and only carried by at&t!

  16. John Says:

    People buy into hype.

  17. Mr. Blue Dot Says:

    I’m reading this and posting on it from my G1. The pull out keyboard is intellegently engineered, a large touchscreen. It’s not a multitouch screen, but I can assign keyboard shortcuts to any key I want, and have simple copy and paste text commands.

    I use the google voice search feature the most. I literaly ask my phone a question and instantly get research material for the answer. I ride the bus a lot and this phone has been amazing for those trips. And now that I have google maps and a gang of apps that increases functionality in every imaginable way, I explore a lot more frequently than when all I had was my regular phone.

    There are some short comings of course. Like the lack of a headphone jack in favor of an almost ridiculous dongle with a mike. Or not having microsoft exchange capabilities. But most of the places that the OS suffers in is covered by the Android Marketplace and the open source programming and distribution approach.

    I can’t imagine going back to a regular phone now, even when I’m not in 3g coverage I have tools and apps for just about any situation requiring information. They’re smart phones for a reason.

    What ever happened to the Cloud Phone buzzword. That one was kinda cool, ha ha.

  18. Willy Says:

    I want to buy this smartphone Sciphone n12 because it seems sooo much cheaper than all the iphones and typhones and whatnot.

  19. Katelin Says:

    I don’t speak English but I have Samsung J700 ;]

  20. MattH Says:

    I have used iPhones but don’t own one. I don’t really like the smartphone form factor: screen is too small, keyboard too hard to type on. Ok for simple stuff, but the more powerful the phone, the more inconvenient the form factor. And it’s also bigger than you need to simply make a call. I think the smartphones will evolve into larger tablets, and phones will shrink again and become accessories to the tablets, at least that makes sense to me.

  21. Lazlo Says:

    Would love one, but I spend less than ten bucks a month for pay-as-you-go cell service right now. Since I have an iPod Touch, I already have most of the application functionality I’d get from an iPhone. Right now it’s not worth an additional $60+/month for me to bridge the gap.

  22. Nate Wesley Says:

    I may be limiting my tech horizons a bit, but when I use the internet, I want ‘the real internet’ and not the one shrunk down into a screen that’s slightly larger than a baseball card. Using the internet through a small digital brick just doesn’t have the same appeal to me as enjoying a blog or a video on a viewable screen, connected with a 7/8ths to fullsize keyboard so I can type out a response to it. For what most people like about their smartphones, I think a netbook would be a much better fit for me.

    So I don’t think I’ll go the smartphone route unless I’ve given one for business use. For personal use, a ‘dumbphone’ with some non-subscription frills (MP3 playability, FM radio, built in games, etc.) is what I’d rather have. The only ‘smart’ device I might spring for is the Peek Pronto email device.

  23. nadahima Says:

    in my country, indonesia, smartphone especially blackberry si growing very fast today. perhaps you know that. almost urban people has this gadget and all most all telco company here provide this smartphone. meanwhile iphone, just one telco company launched it,
    any nice article


  24. arrowhead Says:

    – I have seen a friend checking his emails on his i-phone while watching a movie in the theater
    – Another friend checks his email while waiting on a traffic light.
    – I always find my boss checking his email on his blackberry when I or anybody else is talking to him (how rude is he?)

    Give me a break! I Do-not. Want. A. Smart Phone.

    I need a break from a computer. I want to stay away from emails for a while. I have the patience to go home, take a shower, open my laptop and then check my emails or my friends facebook updates.

    I want to attend to the people who are around me and my real surroundings!

  25. John Says:

    Finally, a person who some sense and humility.

  26. fin Says:

    Nice article bro….

  27. Nick Says:

    The last comment is the best. Right on the dot!

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