Daily Dose of iQ: CNET's Maggie Reardon Says Smartphones 'Not For Everyone'

Jan 15, 2013 — Allan Pulga

When I initially read the headline to this CNET 'Ask Maggie' article, "Why a smartphone may not be for everyone," I assumed Maggie (Senior CNET writer Marguerite Reardon) was talking about feature phones being better suited to children (i.e. a kid's first phone), until they actually start using apps.

Turns out it's about the elderly.

A reader wrote to Maggie asking whether he should upgrade his parents to an iPhone 5 for dad and an iPhone 4S for mom, even though they currently use feature phones, "love the price of their plans and are happy with the features."

Maggie replies, suggesting he only get iPhones for his parents if he thinks they would use the features on a smartphone. "Also you should really consider the added cost, and whether adding smartphones to their lives is in their budget. After all, it's not the cost of the devices that are expensive so much as the service that comes with it."

The number of people 'under-using' their smartphones is probably surprisingly high.

Sound advice and something you assume to be common sense for most people. But the number of people who've bought smartphones simply because they're better and faster (not to mention when they're giving older models away on postpaid contracts) and yet don't use apps or email on them is probably suprisingly high.

I thought about it and realized my mother is one of those people. She has a Samsung Android phone but she only uses it to make calls and to text. She uses her laptop for going on the Internet and for email.

Like many people, my mom was lured in by all the flashy advertisements hawking the hottest, newest smartphones -- she figured she needed one too. But, as Maggie pointed out, she really doesn't.

By establishing trust, wireless salespeople are establishing loyalty.

This scenario is an important one for wireless retailers to address, as their sales staff are likely selling phones to first-time smartphone owners in this demographic (Baby Boomers) on a regular basis.

Maggie's advice is refreshing because she goes against conventional wisdom to deliver service on a case-by-case basis, to sell a smartphone only to people who truly need one.

In this recession period, during which prepaid plans continue to increase in popularity, showing customers you're interested in saving them money and giving the straight goods will go a long way in establishing trust and loyalty.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Business Intelligence

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