Keeping up with the Phonses

So most of us when down the pub take our phone out and put it on the table. This behaviour tends to be part security blanket, part conceit (you are so important that you couldn’t possibly miss a call), and part ‘phoneupmanship’ to show off your most recent acquisition.

Recently I haven’t been taking out my phone. I’ve been ashamed – especially given what I do for a living – because I don’t have an iPhone. Worse still I don’t even have an Android phone. In fact I have a perfectly functional but not terribly sexy Nokia N82.

So how did this terrible technosocial faux pas occur? Well about six months about, on June 8th to be specific my current service provider phoned up having noticed that I was both out of contract and in need of an upgrade. Current provider: Orange, June 8th: iPhone 3G Launch.

Now I could have just said no and immediately switched to O2 but I was under the misguided belief that Orange would ‘get’ the iPhone reasonably soon. I have been with Orange for about 14 years and to date have had no reason to switch.

If I was actually honest with myself I have no real reason to be in any way brand loyal. I actually ended up paying more than double than I should have for 3 years because I didn’t change plans. My fault, true, but they were more than happy to take my money and make me an Orange Premiere customer which has then benefit of regular plan reviews – which to date haven’t happened.

In fact the one thing I’ve asked for is to decrease talk time and increase data whilst keeping my monthly bill much the same i.e. same A.R.P.U, different services. This concept seems to be impossible to get across – especially now you have to decide whether you’re a dolphin or a bloody kangaroo.

Anyway it’s now six months on and I still don’t have an iPhone. Having said that I did get an iPod Touch and tethered via wifi (joikuspot) to my N82 turns the two of em into an equivalent iPhone. Actually works pretty well.

So why is any of this of interest?

Well the iPhone/O2 thang was the first of a particularly irritating trend. This was followed in no particular order by the new blackberry only available on Vodafone and T-Mobile keeping the first Android phones to itself. The reasoning behind these deals is simple but I can’t help but think that this is really bad – short term – strategy for the ailing service providers. Since we all tend of be on an annual upgrade cycle they are creating a scenario not unlike the credit card hopping world.

The thing is – I don’t want to switch – I’ve been perfectly happy where I am but the fact that I am going to have to now simply because I like keeping up with phoneses.

So again – what’s the big deal? Why is it such a bad and short-term strategy? Well simply because you aren’t switching to a brand that you have any affinity to, it’s a brand which has a brand which you have an affinity to. Each time you switch you care a little less about who is offering it so eventually you simply won’t care.

Service providers have been by definition a commodity from day one and yes they are all looking at ways to stave off that day when the low orbit satellites are put in place making their networks obsolete (or any of the other mobile doomsday scenarios) but in the long run this isn’t the way to do it.

Call me old fashioned but there is still a lot to be said for good service, competitive pricing and an even hand in terms of retention…

Still going to switch tho’.

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