Opinion stories

 
All of you reading this who own a smartphone, raise your hand. Hmm, yeah, that's what I thought — DVICE readers are heeled, as they used to say in the old west. You who didn't raise your hands, you stupid phone owners — no, I mean the phones are stupid, not you — after all, if there are smart phones, there must be stupid phones, right? Okay — how about smart-challenged phones. In all events, those of you with not-smart-phones are now an endangered minority. According to Pew Research, 53 percent of Americans say they now own a smartphone. To me, owning a stupid phone here in the second decade of 21st century is akin to someone in the 1950s insisting on mounting a horse to satisfy their primary transportation. So why haven't you joined the modern era and gotten yourself a smartphone? And why aren't all you smartphone owners (you can put your hands down now) making like smartphone-toting St. Pauls and proselytizing among the non-smartphone believers?
 
Over the New Year's weekend, I was reminded of an old comedy record called The First Family, a hilarious and enormously popular spoof of the Kennedy administration from the early 1960s, pulled from circulation after JFK's assassination in 1963. A friend in my age demographic had never heard of it. So I attached an MP3 file of one of the tracks I had made from my CD copy and emailed it to him. In the wake of all the SOPA brouhaha, I got to thinking about this exchange. I wasn't selling the track or album to him; I didn't send him the entire album; I didn't post it anywhere where someone else might listen to it for nothing (though someone has, but I'm not telling you where). But I felt dirty nonetheless. And suddenly I understood the urge that led lawmakers to create the Frankenstein monster that is SOPA and its evil spawn PIPA.
 
Wow, that was some year. A scintillating presidential election, a exciting London Summer Olympics, literally shocking developments in the electric car business, the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan, an astounding end to the Dark Knight trilogy and beginning of The Hobbit. It was a weird year in tech, too, especially compared to the yawn-worthy 2011, which will be remembered more for the death of Steve Jobs than any particular technology or gadget. With the improved economy, consumers were obviously willing to invest in new gear this year, and clearly unwilling to buy anything that even hinted at anything old. And that dissatisfaction with the old extended into several prominent boardrooms. So here's a review of what happened in the coming year (and good luck untangling that twisted tense syntax).
 
Don't misconstrue, but I go both ways — I'm a bi e-reader user. My e-book reading odyssey began with the Kindle. Then I started using the Kindle app on my iPhone. I then moved to the second generation Kindle, then to the Kindle and iBook apps on the iPad. I have now returned to a dedicated e-reader, the new Kobo eReader Touch Edition, switching with the Kindle and the iPad Kindle app where I have most of my unread books. As soon as I finish reading my pending Kindle books, I believe I will stay with Kobo. While not exactly typical, I believe I'm not alone in my tablet v. dedicated e-book reader vacillation.
 
Wander into any electronics store and you'll soon come face-to-face with a wall of "Made for iPhone" accessories, especially earphones. Now, look around the store and find the "Made for Android" accessories area. No, go ahead. I'll wait. Hmmm, hmmmm, hmmm, la de da, tada ta da — Gee, wasn't Irving Berlin a great songwriter? — Do dodo do... Back? Find it? I didn't think so. Which is bizarre, isn't it? According to the latest figures, Android phones comprised 36.4 percent of the smartphone universe, iOS "just" 26 percent, RIM/BlackBerry a shrinking 25.7 percent. Yet there are about as many universal Android-specific accessories as there are happy Miami Heat fans. Here's why — and it's less obvious than you think.

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