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Looking back: Cellular 1998-current under review.

I have been in Wireless tech for years. Oh C*@p 21 years. Now I feel old. First phone I ever sold was a Motorola StarTac 6500. You could drop that phone from a moving airplane, land it, pick it up and call your mom. A tank!

In this time, I have owned hundreds of phones and that is before I started writing about tech. Nokia 5100, The Motorola v2288 Peanut phone, The First Blackberry 850, The first iPhone, First HTC Android, First Samsung galaxy S, and so on and so on.

Over these many, many years I have watch the industry do amazing things and annoying things. Innovate or lazily copy and paste design and technology. I’ve noticed the last several years I have been less impressed with Smartphones and do not see the same importance to own the latest and greatest. Now this could be in correlation with me getting older…maybe…nawww.

Let us begin a journey down my history of Cellphones.

It was 1998 just started working at Radio Shack. First sales job ever, super excited but also insanely nervous. You see my resume I applied with was completely fabricated. Made up companies that I sold at to have “experience” they were looking for. I had no idea how to sell let alone the complexities of all the technology we offered.  Enter my first cellphone customer 3rd day. I stumbled all over the sale. Did not have right phone tech knowledge or plan knowledge. This was a mess. I do not think I could have failed harder if I tried. Customer leaves my boss is yelling at me for not knowing what I was talking about “3rd day remember”. After that sales I grabbed every phone we sold opened them up and started playing. That was it, I loved Cellphones. I was hooked on every new one that came out. It was like a drug to me. I would always be trying to figure out how to acquire that next cool phone. One year I had 32 phones . I did this through upgrades, service provider negotiations and trade ups.

Cool thing about cellular tech when I got into it was everything was about to change. Phone at that time were Bar or flip. Coolest feature was the game snake on your Nokia. There were some more advanced phones in the world but not easily accessible yet.

Its early 2000 now. Phones are getting so cool. Color screens, Flashy colorful phones, Personal Digital Assistants (AKA PDA’S) Windows mobile just coming out, Handspring, eventually Palms. Now we are getting it to smartphones. They we expensive but only because it was early adopters buying it. Us early adopters pay more so everyone else can get it cheaper later…. You’re welcome!

Now smartphones were getting exciting. Better cameras, Bigger screens. BlackBerry is everywhere. BlackBerry PIN messenger evolves into BlackBerry messenger. BBM this BBM that. You were not cool if you did not have BBM. Pfft… They were the Kings of Smartphones. Nice full qwerty keyboards, Great batteries, Some Apps, Browse the internet. What more could you ask for? They were also super durable. I would sell the benefits of blackberry by throwing it across my store.

But Wait…what do I see in the distance? said blackberry. Followed by. Is that another fruit-based company?? Why yes, its apple and they would like you to meet THE IPHONE. (insert ominous suspense music).

Apple Changed everything, New touch screen tech, simple layout for users, apps store with a fast and large catalogue of programs to choose from. It was awesome. My phone was now more use to me then my computer for the first time ever. Apple was marketed to apple users mainly because of there Eco system and costs. Not the phone so much just the app store was costly.

Not to long after Google jumped in the ring with android. Terribly similar to the iPhone but focused to another group of people. The frugal people of the world rejoiced as android offered way more free apps and more inexpensive phone.

From this point forward the industry would be at war “Apple Vs android” Companies like Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, etc.… had to now jump on android or fall to the wayside. Microsoft tried to get in the ring again to fight it out. But that was short lived.

Now this is not the end of this article it is a base line. If your getting bored of reading all the blah blah blah and your eyes are getting sore then go to the kitchen, grab a drink, snack, splash some water on your face. Once your done come on back and continue. 😊

Wow your break took longer then we thought. We have been waiting for you to continue.

Now this next area of topic is my opinion. You may not agree with it but that’s OK great thing about opinions are that everyone can have one.

In the beginning phones were simple and costly. Not cheap to buy or service. But as phone technology advanced and more people were willing to part ways with their hard-earned monies these things came down a lot.

When we got into the smartphone era, we started seeing a plateau on price. Plans were still all over the place as the industry and customers were trying to find the best middle ground.

Here is the problem. Phones cost for HTC, Samsung and other companies like LG were all around $0-$200 for a smart phone on contract. But suddenly apple started increasing the phones cost. New iPhone came out say at $199.99 but the next year the new one was $249.99 the 299.99 so on and so on. Now you want an iPhone 11 Pro Max 512gb it is 1499.99 USD over 2 years. Holy Jebus that a lot of spaghetti.

Did you know the original IPhone, a masterpiece of technology was only $499.99 (with inflation is worth $615) no term. Thats $1000 less the IPhone 11 which only runs marginally better then IPhone X..

This constant increase on price drove other companies to follow. Samsung galaxy S20+ 5g 512gb is $1349.99 USD over 24 months.

These prices have gotten out of control. Did you know there is a Samsung s20, s20+ and an s20 ultra? There is still a Note, Note+ and probably a note 20 Lite coming. That is 6 flag ship phones. 6!!!! Everyone had 1-2 flag ship. That what made them exciting and unique. We are over flooded with phones that cost to much.

According to NBC News (via TechInsights) The iPhone Pro Max cost to make

  • Screen costs $66.50
  • The battery is $10.50
  • New triple camera design is $73.50
  • Processor, modems, and memory equal a total of $159
  • Sensors, holding material, assembly etc.…$181

Total production cost of $490.50

This would be remarkably similar to other flag ships. I know there are other cost associated to with this phone but based on volume of sale it holds a small % to that number.

Apple for example has ranged between 124% mark up as high as 260% mark up. Over the years there is an average (estimated) number of 205% mark up. estimates info from bankmycell

These markups make sense sometimes. Like the folding phone being so high. You are paying for all the research and development that goes into it.

Now the reason why this was so important to point out is there is a change coming in a category that makes these companies look a little silly. High end budgets phones from Companies like OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Xiaomi, to name a few. Similar big features and power but for much less.

OnePlus 8 pro 5G 256gb 12gb ram = 999.99 USD

Samsung Galaxy Ultra 5G 512gb = $1599.99 USD

These 2 phone share almost identical tech. OnePlus offers faster quick charge on cable and faster wireless charging. Samsung Camera array is more advances. The Picture quality is similar but Samsung has a few extra features

How can OnePlus make a phone using same tech with less sales volume for $600 cheaper? Trust me the extra 256gb storage does not cost $600. Its this reason I question the reasoning of the Samsung and Apple as well as others pricing choices.

Multi Billion dollar giants will start losing to companies like OnePlus if they do not take a hard look at their strategies. Point is we now live in a technology filed world with several options. At the end of the day if you love Samsung buy Samsung, you love Apple buy Apple. Just know there are some great choices out there now that we did not have in 1998.

I digress

P.S Correction My first cellular device was a Motorola Page in 1997 😊

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