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Survival of the smartest

Jaideep Deo Bhanj
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In Focus Mobile phone users in the city are spending large sums to keep up with the latest technology and they are making informed decisions about which brand to buy, writes Jaideep Deo Bhanj

It is hard to imagine life without a mobile phone. It wakes us up in the morning, we take it to work, to the gym, to the dining table, and we snuggle up with it at night. In fact, there is a term, nomophobia, coined for those who fear being out of mobile phone contact.

With the coming of 3G, better displays and faster processors, phones can browse the net, take high quality photographs, keep us in touch through social media, navigate, make payments, book tickets, and manage schedules. There is an application that can help you with almost any task. Phones have gotten sleeker, smarter and more efficient with new models and versions coming out every few months. Buying an expensive gadget is no longer only about making a statement. The features actually justify the price tag.

Companies are being pushed to innovate as there is cut-throat competition among high-end smartphone manufacturers. Until 2007 RIM, the makers of BlackBerry, dominated the market as it was the first smartphone to receive emails on the move. It became popular with corporates and earned itself a ‘business device’ tag. It took the vision of Steve Jobs and his team at Apple to reinvent the mobile phone and give to the world a device that was reliable and sleek, had good multimedia capabilities, a touch display, and a great camera, and was completely different from any other phone the world had seen. Thousands of people lined up outside stores to get their hands on the iPhone. It took a consortium of companies headed by Google to develop Android, an open source software that is now giving the Apple operating system a run for its money.

Samsung has emerged as Apple’s strongest competitor, in some markets even outselling the iPhone.

New launches are eagerly looked forward to. Tech bloggers speculate months in advance about the changes. Secrecy was an Apple trademark which helped in promoting the phone and creating hype.

Launch

The net is usually abuzz with leaked images before every launch. The actual launch is also a flamboyant world event. This week BlackBerry launched its new phone with an upgraded operating system, the Z10 in India, which will compete against the iPhone5 and the Samsung SIII, as well as others like the Nokia Lumia 920, which runs on the Windows 8 platform. With this launch, BlackBerry hopes to win back its share in the smartphone market. It has launched its phone in India ahead of its US launch, which shows the importance of the Indian market.

Vizagites are crazy about their mobile phones as well and a large number of users are choosing smartphones. Shops selling phones have mushroomed across the city and are always full of people. Dabagardens, which at one time boasted a variety of shops, is now the main mobile phone market in the city. Mohan Prasad, the owner of Cell Point, says, “The demand for smartphones is growing in the city and the customer is very aware about the new launches. We get advance bookings mostly from college students who want to keep up to date.” He says that buyback offers and EMI schemes make the phones priced at over Rs. 40,000 affordable and people understand that quality comes at a price. “People use their phones for business as well as for entertainment and are looking for a perfect mix which high-end phones that run on Android, iOS and Windows 8 provide. Those looking for a serious business phone go for BlackBerry,” adds Prasad. Although phones which run on Android come at a lower price tag as well, the quality of display and processor causes limitations.

Android is popular for the number of apps and the large variety of handsets that run on it. However, judging by sales of high-end phones in the city, the iPhone seems to be leading the race. Vinod Sarma, who works at Aptronix, a premium reseller of Apple, says that those who walk into his shop are already aware of the features of the phone. They are mostly below the age of 40, looking for a user-friendly phone, and willing to pay for quality. “The beauty about the iPhone is that it does not catch a virus or hang,” says Sarma. “The company has earned the reputation of being innovative and offering the best when it comes to technology.”

Apple offers service through its premium resellers so that it can reach out to its customers and ensure that the customers are getting the most out of their device. The launch of a new phone can change the entire scenario overnight.

Keeping up with the latest can be expensive but when a mobile phone stays with you all day and sleeps with you at night the extra money seems worth it.

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