Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When Luxury becomes Necessity

Luxuries are stuff and services that we want, to increase comfort or better experiences, but absolutely we don't need them to perform our day to day life. It all boils down to our willingness to fork out money for the higher level of enjoyment. Luxuries are frills, they're added on top of basic stuff to enhance user experience.

Your coffee at Starbucks can have so much frills if you choose to. Add this, add that to your cup of coffee and that of course increase how much you pay.

Starbucks coffee

What's the item after all? It's A Cup'ppa Coffee.

Items or service you deem as "wants" in the past may become items you need one day.

There wasn't a need to keep a mobile phone for everyone. Then comes along prepaid service and the need to keep track of people like parents keeping track of young children I started to see primary school kids with basic phone models. One of my friend even debated with his parents for years to provide them mobile phones because of the need to coordinate among colleagues while working outside.

I'm sure everyone remembers this classic model of Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310 mobile handphone

Nokia 3310 was a popular model 10 years ago. Even when mobile handsets with colour display were introduced into the market, I considered them luxury because handsets were still meant to make calls and SMS. Browsing the mobile web on GPRS wasn't an experience, data charges were expensive. There wasn't much to browse on the web. 3G phones were still a toy for the rich, that was like 5 years ago.

Until the day when standardised operating systems for handphones come along (Symbian, iPhone, Android), applications were developed with the buzzword compatible,the Internet was filled with rich user-generated content coupled with fixed price billing plan for data usage, only then mobile Internet really takes off.

I tried using Internet on my uncle's phone. It used to cost a few dollars for browsing a few pages. Even when I first stepped my foot into Australia, mobile browsing was an expensive affair until one day, I found out data charges became 10x cheaper!

There is no point having cutting edge technology on our mobile phones if there's nothing to see. It's ourselves, the people that make Internet so addicting. The previous generation always thinks we're addicted to our high tech gadgets but we're actually addicted to checking out people.

We usually check out people on this thing called

Facebook logo

Facebook become a BLAST when its integration into mobile platform coupled with status updates. I can also say a word on what my friends are doing. Catching up has never been easier!

Then come along this cute blue bird (Tweet tweet!) called

Twitter logo

Twitter makes everyone a celebrity! In an instance, the whole world will know what you're doing at your will. Following a critical mass (enough people) will feed you into the information loop, there's no need to call people one by one. With such a small cost, Twitter let you reach a wider audience!

So how does a luxury in the past become a necessity today? When the needs change. Facebook and Twiter is driving the need for data. Suddenly, data charges become so affordable, driven by high demand of the market. What you see is an economy of scale in telecommunications and you're benefitting from it right here right now.

How can you jump on the mobile Internet bandwagon with ease? You need a 3G phone compatible with your telco so you won't have problems with nitty gritty stuff. When buying a phone, take note of not only the physique of the phone but also the operating system used to run the phone. If you plan to use Foursquare, in-built GPS is a must. Do your homework: Is there many useful mobile applications available for the operating system of your phone? Even if you don't plan to install many software in your phone, make sure your phone can access Facebook and Twitter.

Nokia N8
Nokia N8

Many of you are probably waiting for a 4G phone like the one above, due to release in August 2010. Trust me, don't buy something that's fresh from the oven! You'll pay through your nose. Wait like 3 - 6 months after the release date for the price to drop.

Last but not least, make sure you subscribe to a data plan! I don't want you to have a heartache when you receive your phone bill.

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