Undisciplined Youth or Sign of the Times?

Many of the reactions to this survey, New U.S. Smartphone Growth by Age and Income, are suggesting that young people don’t have their priorities straight in that even though they may be earning $15,000 or less a year, they still spend money on a smartphone. I disagree.

Youth and SmartphoneWhat isn’t revealed by this survey is how many of those surveyed do not have a land line. In many cases, the individual’s cell phone is their only phone. They do not have a land line. Back when I was in my 20’s (just after the era of strings pulled tight between soup cans and just before cell phones), my income was comparable to $15,000 per year in today’s dollars. Yet, I still had a phone. It was as indispensable then as it is today.

Neither does the survey distinguish the type of smartphone. Some are more expensive than others. Some are acquired new while others may be acquired refurbished at a significantly reduced price – particularly for older models (AT&T is offering me an upgrade from my 3G iPhone to a refurbished 3GS for 1ยข.) Given the multifunction capabilities of a smartphone, the case can be made that such devices replace more than just a phone. They replace the phone book, paper maps, and the Rolodex. Smartphones also incorporate features, such as a personal music device, once contained in physically separate devices.

So, if I were to add together the relative cost of my circa 1980’s telephone service, portable cassette player, and day-timer, the sum would probably compare to the cost of today’s modest smartphone and cell service.

[Graphic credit: erlandh]

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