The Dow dropped more than 400 points yesterday, again. 401(k)s are tanking. Corporations, big-box and small, are taking nosedives. Grocery store sales are up; restaurants are losing business and the Fed's freaking out.
Oh, and that new smartphone is about to come out. Do you bite?
In a time of penny-pinching, there seems to be more of a gap between basic cell phones and smartphones than ever before. My review yesterday of the T-Mobile G1 -- a $179.99 smartphone positioned in the market to woo consumers with basic cell phones -- elicited a series of comments asking, in essence, "Just why are you knocking on the G1? Just because it's a smartphone? If you have a beef with smartphones, fine, but don't take it out on the G1!"
Several G1 users said they felt they got a lot for the money -- and they're right, since Android is a groundbreaking platform in many ways. But in general, upgrading to a smartphone from a "dumb" phone will cost you several hundred dollars more per year.
So, with that in mind: With an economy in the tank, are smartphones worth the monthly expense?
Smartphones allow you to do wondrous things: they offer Internet connectivity anywhere, real-time chat capability, fully-fledged navigation and a host of other options. They allow you to be more resourceful than you ever dreamed with your standard phone.
On the other hand, $600 or so is a lot of green -- and could buy a lot of shiny, happy gadgets on this site.
So I ask you, readers: Are smartphones worth it?
Would you get a BlackBerry Bold or Storm if the company didn't pay for it, despite the $2-300 price tag and the monthly data plan charges? Would an iPhone change your mind? What about the consumer-focused G1 -- is a lack of MS Exchange a dealbreaker for that kind of cash?
And would you re-up your contract just for the pleasure of forking over a few more Ben Franklins?
(Or would you settle for Wi-Fi only Apple iPod touch, a "smart" unit without the "phone," for a one-time fee of $220?)
I really want to know. The holidays are coming up, and I'm willing to bet that some people are reconsidering the basic cell phones they currently use in light of the economy.
To be clear: I'm not really addressing business users who get BlackBerrys free from work. I'm talking to people who are considering ponying up their own hard-earned cash for these unit, for work or play.
Where do you draw the line? Just how much are you willing to pay for, among other things, Internet connectivity wherever you go?