Where’s My Phone?

29 03 2012

Yep. I hear this almost every day around my house. I usually wind up calling my wife’s phone and hope that she left the ringer on, for it will serve as a beacon to help locate it.

A friend recently gave her a “Clapper-type” device for help in keeping her keys within reach, but, alas, she forgets to use it. What good is technology if you can’t remember to use it?

But aside from my dirty laundry (and hopes that said wife isn’t reading), I was amazed to read today that Americans lose $30 billion worth of cell phones each year. really? In fact, the article posits that, on average, each American loses their phone once each year.

And I don’t mean somewhere in the house.

You would think that by now we would have become accustomed to toting a small portable device, and keeping an eye on it. Maybe it is its very portability that makes it so lose-able (I have no idea if this is even a word). And maybe it’s because people tend to do silly things, like place their phone on the roof before getting into their car (like their Cokes, carry-outs, etc.). Or, worse yet, in a dark, smoke-filled bar. After a few too many, of course.

Interestingly, residents of some cities are more forgetful than others, which could lead to a slew of jokes. San Franciscans and New Yorkers? Why, they don’t know which way the water is, much less where there phone is hiding. As an aside, I’ve always known that we Chicagoans are a pretty with-it group (my phone is on my desk right beside me, thank you very much). Heck, I am so anal about my phone that I compulsively tap my left-front pants pocket when out and about, making sure I have it.

More importantly, though, phone manufacturers need to make phones…every one of them…with built-in locater services. Sure, there are some apps available, and Apple has probably done the best job of trying to solve the problem, but clearly the job is not getting done. Thirty billions dollars’ worth of phones each year translates to over $100 worth of phones lost for each and every cell phone owner in the US (obviously ranging from cheap disposable pay-as-you-go phones to elaborate smartphones).

And marketers need to be aiding and abetting such an improvement, because it is through this device that we are all receiving an increasingly large amount of our advertising. Without our phones, we cannot be reached by our commercial suitors. We will not hear their subtle wooings, the sweet little nothings they splash across our palm-sized screens, their compelling calls to action.

It’s all about mobility, folks. And while I cannot vouch for how or why people lose their phones (I have never lost my phone, he says, while quickly looking for some wood to knock), the future of marketing may very well lie on such innovation. This is how we do it, and the way we do it is simply much different from how we did it in the past.

I have yet to hear of someone losing their television set.

In the mean time, be sure to set a security code for your phone, because if you do lose it, there’s no point in giving someone else the keys to your entire life. As for me, I’m just glad my wife’s forgetfulness does not extend beyond the walls of our home. Because then the Baltimore jokes would run unabated. I hear those people are a lot like New Yorkers.

Dr “Just Kidding, Honey” Gerlich


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