Owning a smartphone does not make you smart

Tulsans wanting to stay connected are seeking mobile phones with advanced capabilities — devices that have PC-like functionality.
Wireless phone companies operate dozens of corporate and indirect stores across Tulsa. They also employ hundreds in retail and call centers. The Tulsa Business Journal talked to representatives of three cellular companies in Tulsa — AT&T, Verizon and U.S. Cellular.
The variety of mobile phones is nearly endless, yet Tulsans want “most anything that has a touch screen,” said Dustin Holt, area retail sales manager for Tulsa AT&T.
“They want that touch,” he said. “They do not want to go through a bunch of buttons. One touch and, bam, it’s there.”
The iPhone is a leading seller as the combination of the sleek chassis, ease of use and an unparalleled applications store keeps it in a class by itself, Holt said. But a variety of smartphones continues to narrow the gap.
“The technology is there between them and the iPhone,” he said. “Tulsans have several to choose from, as every major carrier offers a phone to compete with the iPhone.”
The International Association of Wireless Telecommunications Industry estimates there are more than 276 million subscribers in the U.S. Such technology is so dominant that more and more households are going wireless, said Wes Rickard, Verizon district manager.
“They are dumping their landline,” he said.
The wireless association says 20 percent of U.S. households have gone wireless — nearly three times the amount in 2005.
Cell phones are moving beyond being a luxury; they are a necessity, Holt said.
“Customers are lost without their wireless devices,” Holt said. “And, with the voice and data, they’ve moved past a luxury because they are so affordable.”
The top smartphones offer about five hours of talk time, up to 32 gigabytes of memory, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, room for hundreds of contacts and touch-screen capabilities, as well as full keyboards on the screen or otherwise. The devices operate on either the second- or third-generation wireless network. Sprint touts its “4G,” which is available in a handful of cities but not Oklahoma.
Purchases at U.S. Cellular dealerships mirror the trend, said Nancy Fratzke, director of sales for U.S. Cellular.
“It is customer-specific,” Fratzke said. “People want Internet access. They are on for social networking, navigation. They want to be able to be connected.
“Smartphones have access to e-mail and the Internet. Customers either want a basic phone or they go all out with a smartphone device.”

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