Spend any time in a city in the developed world and compare it with the experience from say twenty years ago. People are still locked up in their own world, but these days rather than using a newspaper or paperback book to avoid eye contact with strangers, people are using their eBook readers or smartphones. However, our relationship with our smartphone appears to be that much more intimate than with our former newspapers and with good reason. Away from the Harry Potter franchise, newspapers are static objects, immediately obsolete as soon as they have printed whereas our smartphone is interactive and up to date. Manufacturers and software developers are keenly aware of our developing relationship with our personal devices and have invested billions of dollars into making the experience that much more personal and intimate: products and services such as Google Now, which are designed to pull together the relevant information and content to us in a context-aware way, appear to be one of the next big things. Meanwhile, Motorola have pieced together an infographic detailing the extent of our relationship with our smartphones.
Motorola asked a little over seven thousand adults across seven countries a series of questions about their relationships with their smartphones. Motorola were attempting to discover how deep the bond is between human and machine and the results are in some respects, not surprising. People are enamoured with their smartphones, but many of us are also unhappy too. Sixty percent of us slept with our smartphone in our hand and almost the same proportion used their device in the restroom. With a statistic like this, ‘phone sterilizers start to make more sense. Thanks to the introduction of waterproof devices, seventeen percent of us shower with our smartphone and over half would rescue their smartphone from a fire. Twenty two of us would give up sex for a weekend than give up their smartphone. Some of these statistics are genuinely eyebrow raising: if you are using an Android device it is, after all, a relatively dumb piece of technology and the really smart stuff is in the form of first and third party applications and services that will run on most similar products.
The last two noteworthy statistics are that forty percent of us ask our smartphone things they wouldn’t ask their best friend, which is a little lower than we might reasonably expect. The reason for this: because Google is both impartial and seemingly all-knowing. It doesn’t judge us for asking the embarrassing questions or give us a wise crack response. Saying, “okay Google, where’s my nearest Cheesecake Factory?” doesn’t have it say, “you don’t need any more cheesecake today.” Not yet, anyway. And the last interesting statistic is that a significant number of us are unhappy with our smartphone: sixty one percent of us. Why is this? Are most smartphones out there simply not good enough? Is it battery life issues, or is it because the manufacturers are rolling out new devices every few months and suddenly our shiny new ‘phone now seems antiquated.