Loving LTE or Tossing the Smartphone: Tech Leaders Share New Habits
We asked people around the Xconomy network whether their personal patterns of technology usage changed much in response to something that happened in 2017, as part of our series of perspectives and predictions marking the start of a new year.
Here are answers from Ben Gilbert, co-founder of Pioneer Square Labs in Seattle and interim CEO of Taunt; Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California; Mark Lowenstein, managing director of consulting firm Mobile Ecosystem; and Kieran Snyder, co-founder and CEO, Textio.
Gilbert: “Voice computing is crossing the chasm and becoming a fixture of daily lives for many. I use Alexa at home and Siri on the go, and I’m shocked by how comfortable I have become talking to my devices. It’s a testament to how much the quality of these services has improved, though we all have plenty of anecdotes about how far they are from perfect.”
Holober: “I threw away my smart phone and began using end-to-end encryption on personal email and a browser that anonymizes my IP address.
“The smartphone had apps, which often have terms of service 40 pages long that nobody reads. They allow apps to access your phone book and read your texts and e-mails, just so you can play some silly games.
“I use a telephone to talk to people. I use a flip-phone. It allows text messages, and I’m very selective about who gets to send them, like my family. For search, I use a tablet. It doesn’t store very much information about me; it doesn’t have much of a hard drive, or files.
“For Internet access, I use a portable hot spot. It takes about 30 seconds to connect. It’s a bit inconvenient, but ten years ago, I didn’t have any of this stuff.”
Lowenstein, an Xconomist: “Remember when you were always in search of Wi-Fi, because it was faster and cheaper than cellular, for data? Well, my experience has really changed over the past couple of years, as LTE networks have improved and public Wi-Fi has become more congested. I’d say that in about 50 percent of situations in places such as coffee shops, hotels, airports, and so on, that the cellular network performs better than Wi-Fi. And with more generous data bucket allocations and ‘unlimited’ plans, using cellular as the ‘default’ has become more affordable. I think the trend will become even more prevalent as Gigabit LTE and 5G services are introduced. The Wi-Fi crowd is aware of this, and is fighting hard to get the FCC to open additional channels in the 5 GHz band. Over time, the boundaries between Wi-Fi and cellular will erode.” See more from Lowenstein here.
Snyder: “This is more like something that happened to me in 2017, rather than something that happened to the world. But as my kids have gotten older, I have become more mindful of the amount of time I spend with them when I’m not attached to a device. I have rules for my kids about screen time, and as of this year I have rules for myself about screen time when I’m spending time with them.”
[Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts sharing thoughts from technology leaders about 2017 trends and 2018 forecasts.]