Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Old Man and the CDMA

I'm kind of disappointed that I'm never going to have that time in my life when I, on some future date, can look back on and say, "Well, I *used* to be cool, when I was your age."  I have never been cool.  And I'm still not, because of my phone.  It's old.  I've mentioned it several times on here and that may lead you to think that I'm continually thinking about it.

I don't, though.  The only time I ever think about it is when other people notice it.  This they do in increasing numbers.  Since God descended from on high and separated the cell phone people into tribes, there has been a serious identity associated with one's phone.  To put it into perspective, one of the big choices I had to make was whether or not it was important to have a color screen.  I decided it wasn't, what with this being in the days before cameras on phones.  If the camera had a calculator on it, it was considered to be "too showy" for use in houses of worship and dignified society.

Instead, I picked the phone from Circuit City (never would have thought my phone would outlive the store!) with the lowest price tag.  My price tag said -$70.  See, back in the day when they were trying to get everyone to have a cell phone, they threw money at us.  Circuit City paid me money to subscribe to a phone and take it out of the store.  Stores don't behave that way now; now the lowest phones are FREE -- in the sense that you eventually get mail-in rebates that offset the price you paid (but not the taxes or the $39 activation fee).  And they're only free if you're a new customer.

That last bit is one of the reasons why I never upgraded.  After my contract ended in 2004, I went in to see about getting a new phone.  Turns out I would have had to buy it, since I was already a customer (this was before loyalty bonuses, too).  So I left it alone.  And the phones got better.  SMS.  Cameras.  MMS.  Email.  Video. Internet.  Touchscreens.  TV.  Satellite navigation. Sling-casted TV.  Streaming movies.  And now "apps", which is just a sexy name for "software", since all phones are now computers.

People can correctly judge me as uncool long before they even see my cell phone, because I call it that: a cell phone.  In the modern parlance, one says "phone", because there isn't (or shouldn't be!) any confusion with those old devices you have in your house.  Those are called "landlines", in much the same way "mail" is now called "snail mail" by those in the know, to separate it from the electronic kind.

Up until just a couple of months ago, I still had home telephone service in addition to my mobile.  It sat right there, next to my computer -- with a pad of paper, in case President Roosevelt called to say we were at war with Japan.  It had long been given over to cold-call sellers and robo-calls.  Oh! and the library, whose computer would dial me and talk to my recording computer to let me know when to pick up books.

I've been gradually moving the pieces towards upgrading my phone.  I've got a job now, which was the main reason I was reluctant to spend more money.  There's a couple of nice phones rolling down the pipe that would serve my growing telecommunications needs nicely.  And the flack my old phone is catching is increasing.  At my friend's wedding a few weeks ago, the wedding photographer was completely enthralled either by me (which would be flattering) or my phone.  She approached me later in the evening to ask if I could show it to her again.  I hope that in the forthcoming wedding album there isn't a mysterious picture of me with my phone.

Within the next couple of weeks, I'll probably end up with a new phone.  Sprint has released a fancy new Android device called the EVO.  That would make it easy to keep my number, since I'm on Sprint now.  The EVO was released on Friday, so I could have run off and picked it up this weekend.  But it's foolhardy to do anything now before tomorrow.  

Because tomorrow is the annual conference where Apple announces the new iPhone.  Apple is such a major player in the smartphone market that it's foolhardy not to acknowledge that Steve Jobs could announce several things that would turn the industry on its earpiece.  He could announce killer price points, he could announce a new device with killer hardware, or he could announce the iPhone going multi-platform -- even if he announced a phone for T-Mobile (smallest of the big carriers) it would mean a gigantic shift. 

So I'll wait a couple of weeks, just to make sure the EVO doesn't accidentally catch on fire or the new iPhone (4G?  3G part II? iPhoner?) doesn't mark on kittens with indelible ink and mock them.

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