Is U.S. Technology Really That Advanced?

October 16, 2011
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With the influx of incredible phones coming out of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, many in the West are asking themselves, what about us?  One would think that with the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phones, there are so many phones to choose from at the local Verizon store–or, are there?

With the ever-expanding smartphone market growing at breakneck speed, it seems that America has been invaded by smartphones and is being overwhelmed by this mass change. However, does a regular person really need an iPhone or a smartphone? The answer is simple: no. Some would argue otherwise–but, we are talking about need, folks.

A quick visit to a Verizon store these days will demonstrate a fact–simple feature phones are on their way out. These phones accommodated basic needs for a regular parent, grandparent, or teenager. Now, we have two sets of phones–plastic feature phones that barely do anything but talk and text, and smartphones with virtually limitless possibilities. For example, the recent ZTE Salute is a simple slider phone supposed to mimic the role of a “feature phone.”  Remember the times of the Motorola RAZR and the LG Chocolate? Where did all the fun go?

How are the phones overseas? In one breath–amazing. For instance, if you take a look at Samsung Anycall, you can see a whole bunch of feature phones available for anyone. Not only does the carrier have great feature phones; it also has amazing Android smartphones. Take a look at a sample Korean feature phone: it has two cameras, sports a widescreen, and is practical for everyday use. Take a look at the pictured BubiBubiF4 from KT Tech. Do you see something of the sort at Verizon or AT&T today?

When the iPhone debuted with video chatting and Tango came to smartphones, was it really revolutionary in the world? No. Korea has had video chatting way before. It can be found on almost all smartphones, and better: even on simple feature phones.

Walk into Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile stores and you’d see a lot of smartphones. By comparison, in other markets, you would see a plethora of smartphones. Take for example the Samsung Galaxy line. In the U.S., we can only see a few variants, but in Korea there are probably about 10–including the recently announced Samsung Galaxy S II LTE.

Why can’t the U.S. have such cool phones? Why don’t our carriers seek a more open market? How many of you would want a feature phone that does not come with all the junk that carriers and handset makers tend to dump into their smartphones? Or, do you prefer smartphones and their price tags? Will Android phones become the next “feature” phones and soon have “superphone” varieties? What do you think?

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