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Mobile Communications

A business case to get shot of smartphones

Technology conferences can be interesting for unexpected reasons. Keynote speeches rarely offer dramatic surprises, product demonstrations may or may not be helpful for attendees at the sharp end, but talking to people and observing their behaviour can yield new insights.

Peter Wüst, senior director of the Emerging Solutions & Innovation Group at NetApp, tapped me on the shoulder prior to starting his presentation at Insight 2017 in Berlin and said, “Wow, that's really cool!”

He was talking about the Psion 5mx open on the desk in front of me, which I was using to take notes. He asked about its battery life (about a month of normal usage), then surprised me by showing me his new Swiss dumbphone, saying, “It's an expensive way to do very little!”

He calls the phone his 'personal firewall' since it's a way of avoiding pings and notifications all the time. “Not even WhatsApp, it just does phone calls and texts.” About my Psion and his phone, he joked, “So appliances are coming back into fashion!”

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Alex Cruickshank

Alex Cruickshank has been writing about technology and business since 1994. He has lived in various far-flung places around the world and is now based in Berlin.  

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