Do Mobile Phones Make Life More Difficult?
By Mike Masnick, Tue Jun 14 23:45:00 GMT 2005

While mobile phones are supposed to be an enabling tool to make our lives easier, some are still balking. It's not the price or the interruptions -- but the difficulty in understanding it all.

There are all sorts of reasons why people claim they don't want a mobile phone. Common reasons include that people don't want to pay the fees or to be constantly interrupted (or reachable). But, increasingly, the real reason is fear. There's just so much terminology in the mobile space that some people have gone beyond just not understanding the benefit to saying that the overall confusion makes their lives more difficult, rather than easier.

Among the various examples in that article is one we've heard before: dealing with ringback tones, which leads to the amusing exclamation: "But why on earth should I want to hear your favourite song? And why should I want a phone to sound like a walkman in the first place? Do I ever want my wife to sound like my mother-in-law?"

This fear has been around for some time, but so far, it seems like most "education" campaigns are more focused on convincing people to use mobile data more, rather than helping them get over the initial hurdle. There's a fine distinction here -- but too many campaigns are about ways to help out the operator by getting people to use more data, rather than helping the user understand that their mobile data options can be useful. In some ways, it's similar to people realizing that all of those "time saving" applications for your computer are really time wasting. It just makes people check out, rather than embrace the offerings.

Perhaps the real answer is to simplify. This is the strategy that operators like Vodafone are taking in approaching those who are still afraid of their mobile phones. Getting people comfortable with the basic steps of a mobile phone and then letting them decide if it makes sense to move up the complexity scale could help many users get over that initial fear hurdle.