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Love at first touch-0000

They may be imperfect but frequent travellers can become zealots of smartphones for their connectivity, portability and ease of communication.

BY:  Mary McKinven

Heading into the second decade of the second millennium AD, humankind has cellphones that have evolved into mini computers.

The fully internet-enabled third generation (3G) devices referred to as smartphones include the touch-screen iPhone and partially touch-screen BlackBerry brands — faster and with more storage and clearer pictures and sound than other cellphones. They have GPS-connected maps and more. 

love at first takeaways-0000But sometimes these clever little devices get in the way of doing business, and some people shun them. Other people have become quite attached.

Frequent overseas traveller Stephen Jacobi, executive director of the New Zealand International Business Forum, has none, “because I’m averse to having email follow me around”.

He uses another brand of “flash phone with all the do-das” but checks emails on a computer remotely or takes a small laptop when he travels. “I would probably take a laptop because I also write on it, but it [a smart phone] could be useful in cabs where I spend a lot of time!” He hears from colleagues that an iPhone is simpler to use than a BlackBerry. “So maybe it’s a good idea.”

Life with Smartphones

Also wary of the smartphone is Monique Surges, chief executive of the New Zealand GLove at first touch 1-0000erman Business Association. She says, “A lot of emails I receive have large attachments I need to work on and this just does not work with a smartphone. Secondly, when communicating with contacts in Germany there is still a certain amount of formality required — even in emails we tend to follow proper letter writing etiquette, which is very painful on a smartphone keyboard, frankly.”

Her solution has been to carry a small notebook that fits in her handbag.

She is, however, a fanatical texter, but wouldn’t dream of using that kind of communication in a business context. “Communication is what good business is all about, so it’s better to send one full, clear, concise response that has been well thought through.”

Regular Asia traveller Graeme Roberts, general manager of Beca International, says his smartphone, a Taiwanese HTC model, has made a major positive difference to his life on the road. “Wherever I can get a phone signal I have my email and diary at my fingertips, which helps keep me connected to headquarters in Auckland, to travelling colleagues and to my family. I particularly enjoy being able to access my favourite news sites.

“However, on the negative side, I find that people increasingly expect instant responses to emails and phone messages, which causes the occasional twinge of nostalgia for pre-smartphone days. But on balance it has quickly become an essential business tool,” Roberts says.


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