iPhones and smartphones have made it around the world and now they’re in River City. But danger awaits.
I live in River City, a mid-size city slightly west of the Mississippi. You probably haven’t visited our town. Doesn’t appear on many maps–including Googles’s–but you really should.
We’re what you might call a “mobile test city.” All the big cellular carriers think our residents best represent a cross-section of America. Most people here who use mobile phones don’t consider themselves guinea pigs. But we sure like the attention it brings.
Thought I’d tell you about mobile life in River City just in case you never visit or miss our billboards near highway 122.
Bought a new Sprint HTC Android Hero phone on eBay (got a good deal too). While configuring and playing with it, I got to thinkin’ about all this “smartphone” buzz–how regular cell phones are dead, no one calls anyone anymore, just texts, tweets, posts. You know, the social media thing.
While playing with my new smartphone, I thought of the song based on our little city: “Ya Got Trouble” from “The Music Man.” That’s our claim to fame.
As I powered up and configured my HTC Hero, I noticed that the phone’s battery was draining like a fast water leak in my bathroom toilet.
So I fired up my Mac (we like Macs in River City) and visited some of those mobile geek forums–the ones with members who are self-proclaimed experts. Checked out Twitter too. Lots of info–some useful, some not.
A lot of the mobile forum folks’ suggestions about turning off the HTC’s data connection, disabling the location feature and dimming the screen to a midnight hue didn’t appeal to me. Heck, I didn’t pay $420 on eBay and change to Sprint’s “Eat All You Can Eat” plan for a crippled smartphone. I mean, even here in River City, we have limits to our patience, let alone money in our wallets.
Mobile forum members now provide better troubleshooting tips than the companies that design, sell and support complex mobile devices.That’s fine with me. I’d rather chat with someone online who knows what they’re talking about.
Another major change is taking place within mobile. Smartphone users who rely on their carriers for technical support are at a great disadvantage over users who don’t. Unless your carrier’s tech team has been trained on a lot of new smartphones, you’ll quickly figure them out and go elsewhere for answers.
At least that’s what Ted Hansen said at the local bar here in River City. See, Ted is our local “mobile guru.” Most everyone listens to
him because he reads all the mobile blogs and really keeps up on things. We’re glad to have Ted here.
As I read the forum experts’ comments about turning off this and changing that, I began feeling like a slowly dying emergency room patient, hearing in my drugged state the attending doctor say: “Well, maybe, we could reduce health costs and electricity by turning down his oxygen flow.” Smartphones are kinda like that. Plenty of super features with batteries invented by Thomas Edison.
Cell phones–we used to call them that–have really challenged carrier support folks. These new-fangled phones are really mobile computers with super tiny screens. But if I wanted a computer, I would have bought one down at Jack’s computer store.
What I really wanted was a mobile device connecting me to the rest of the world without much effort on my part. We got wind of the iPhone in the River City Gazette a few years back, although getting used to a touch screen concerned me and others in River City. We’re kinda used to buttons.
I know that probably turns readers off, but if God wanted us to touch electronic keypads on a smartphone, he would have made our fingers smaller.
But, I’m rambling.
Back to “Music Man” and “Ya Got Trouble.” We’re pleased as punch that River City was chosen as the site for such a great musical. In fact, if you come to see us–assuming you find us–you’ll see a large street-wide banner proclaiming: “River City, the Home of The Music Man.” Yep, that’s what it reads and we’re darn proud of it.
A few lines from the song are kinda appropriate about my story, and I thought you’d enjoy them:
“Well, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a pool table in your community.
Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in River City.”
Cell Phones Come to River City
In earlier times, when people owned “cell phones,” dropped phone calls were irritating but acceptable outcomes in our neck of the woods. People in who used cell phones accepted the foibles of wireless. They didn’t Tweet about how AT&T sucks. While they may have resented their carriers’ poor customer service and charges, they politely said: “Hey, I’ll call you back, my train just entered the River City tunnel.”
Or…”Harry, are you calling on a cell phone? What’s that hiss? I hear echoes.” Folks really enjoyed those TV commercials–you know, the ones with Paul Marcarelli, the Verizon TV guy, who kept asking “can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?” Well, sometimes we could. Other times, not. But, like you, we just put up with it. Sometimes in life that’s just the way it is.
We’re fortunate in our little place to have all the major carriers. There’s Sally at the Sprint store. She’s pretty nice. And Joe over at T-Mobile. Good guy. You should come downtown and meet him. Allison at AT&T can get a little snippy at times, but we just put up with her. And, there’s Clint. He’s the Verizon guy. We’d like him a lot better if he’d quit walking around with those sandwich boards. He says Verizon has the best network, but you know those wireless guys. They say anything to get you to sign up.
Feature Phones Hit River City
Little Claude–we call him little, but he’s actually a 6 footer and only 15 years old–is a mobile freak. The other day he yells out: “Hey, Mom, I gotta run down to AT&T. My contract’s up with T-Mobile and I found a cool phone that lets me text and text and text and get my horoscope and send pictures to my girl friend and, it’s like, you know, I gotta have one..”
Don’t tell him, but we heard from Allison over at AT&T she’s going to give him a good deal. Leaving T-Mobile kinda pissed off Joe, but what the heck, the kid’s heart is set on that new phone.
Before all these new, complicated smartphones came to River City, we were pretty much sold on feature phones. Feature phones were less troublesome. Simple to use. A few built-in games. Maybe some phone apps, weather, sports, all in 6 point type on a tiny screen. Probably increased business for Suzanne, our local optometrist, who sold a lot of glasses and contacts. She called it: “Cell Phone Blurred Vision Syndrome” or CPBVS for short–lots of eye strain.
But you know how mobile geeks want more? It’s kinda like lust: constantly looking for something smarter, more “cool”, more “awesome” as the kids say. They want to impress their friends too. Even in River City, we had lots of feature phones. Yup.
Smartphones and Such
Sally, Allison, Joe and Clint started drooling about smartphones once they heard Steve Jobs at Apple had an illumination. I’m not exactly sure what illuminated him, but he seems pretty turned on.
Well, after River City folks heard Jobs, everyone, including us older folks, wanted to be cool and awesome too.
2007: iPhone Hits River City
I remember that day so well. Lines formed around the AT&T store on Main Street real early. I mean, really early. You might think the President was visiting or something to give a stump speech.
River City folks of all ages, braving the cold, sat on the ground, waiting for the second coming, it seemed. A slight sweat formed on the foreheads of those folks. The first in line to get an iPhone had arrived at 5 a.m., one hour before the store opened. Very unusual here where most awaken at 6 a.m., stroll down to Herby’s coffee shop and get going around 7. Mighty strange, I’d say.
Allison with AT&T reluctantly passed out donuts and juice, just like those Apple store young people. But she didn’t give any to her competitors who showed up to buy their own phone.
Like all those folks at Woodstock, an era passed, everyone quietly waited, playing with their soon-to-be-ditched feature phones. They would be the first. After all, they lived in River City.
2008: 3G iPhones, Batteries Draining
About a year later, we heard through the grapevine that Apple was going to speed up their device to 3G. Everyone, including Allison, got pretty excited, even those who bought the 2g iPhone less than a year earlier.
Well, there were still plenty of the old iPhones flooding River City. And Allison decided to run a $79 sale to ditch the old iPhones so she could sell new ones. That lady knows how to sell phones. I’ll give her credit for that. That’s what happened to River City iPhones in 2008.
Allison and the Gazette kept hyping this “3G” thing–something about AT&T’s faster network, mobile apps, data and such. Lots of folks slept outside the store again (Allison passed out hot coffee this time). As River City iPhone users merrily walked out the cell phone store, you’d think it was Christmas.
2009 Later: -3GS
Our mobile geeks in who sold their 2G iPhones on eBay got a bit perturbed, though, when they started getting dropped calls and fast battery drain.
Allison called out the AT&T techs, who climbed both cell phone towers just to check things out. Some angry users started anti-iPhone campaigns deriding AT&T. Some locals even complained to the mayor and city council.
Fortunately, Ted, our local mobile nut, got people calmed down. He told folks how cell phone signals are always bouncing around the ether. Just have to put up with it. Yeah, that’s what Ted said but younger iPhone users, the ones who never owned a cell
phone for talking, still seemed upset. Well, that’s life in River City.
A few more visionaries, like Ted, started dreaming of solar-powered mobiles to handle the battery drain problem. And Clint, our Verizon guy, changed the words on his sandwich board–something about “Droid,” a new Android phone available in November. He kept his “best network” board, though, just in case this Droid phone thing flopped.
Well, that’s about all that’s happening with mobile in River City. When you get a chance, stop by sometime and see our “Music Man” banner. We’re friendly folk and really like people who are into mobile. In case you have trouble finding River City, try that Goog 411 service and ask for Herby’s Coffee Shop in River City.