Monday, April 22, 2013

My antipathy for Fancy Phones

The mobile revolution in India began as I joined by first job. It was a good feeling being able to talk to anyone any time. It was a new found freedom and the best part about it was that it was affordable. Then the price wars began and soon each operator was outdoing the other. The consumer felt like a king. The original price war was lead by Reliance and then TRAI stepped in to stabilise the prices. It was an amazing feeling being able to talk cross country at rock bottom (by earlier standards) prices. But soon I discovered that my expenses on phone began to increase despite the low prices as I would talk not only to my near and dear one but find ways to keep the phone engaged somehow. Few years passed by and now it was a different sort of revolution that was taking the country by storm. Mobile phone had become a status symbol. Everyone wanted to flaunt the latest model, the latest ring tone, the latest screensaver. One couldn’t avoid being a part of it as there was novelty involved and soon I was spending large sums of money on new phones. It seemed to have become the single largest drain of my hard earned money. I graduated from a Rs 3000/- phone to a Rs 8000/- one to one costing a whopping Rs 20000/-, which was one and half times my monthly salary back then. When I look back now, it seems an insane decision, as the phone merely lived about two and half years. It was heartbreak when one fine day its screen turned blank. A repair of over three grand gave it a lease of life for another month before it conked off again. Flash Back- My parents worked very hard to save money when we bought out first 21 inch Colour television and a fridge in a Diwali combo offer about some 18 years ago for Rs 20 K. It was the largest purchase of electronic goods they had made in their entire life. It was celebration time as we relished this large TV with latest channels. The TV served us almost 10 years before it was damaged in a house shift and the Fridge continues to serve like a loyal friend. Present day- Youth seems to have been positively blinded under the effect of innovative marketing and a culture of pomp. While I have made my share of mistakes as well, it’s my duty to summarise the wisdom bestowed for others here. So friends, while it’s very easy to lose context with the best in business luring you to buy the most avant-garde of gadgets with fancy features, apps and what not, it’s time you stepped back and tried to harness the true potential of your hard earned cash. It’s understood that peer pressure is vicious in current times and one needs to be accepted in his friend’s circle and so the need to show off your gadgets. My advice hence is to manage the peers rather than be managed by them. How do we go about it? Here’s my plan. Invest in 'substantial' assets. I firmly believe that the life expectancy of a phone today is about a year and whatever the amount you spend can only buy you recognition till the next model hits the market and that’s not going to be long. So if it’s the style quotient among your friends is concerned, why not be a leader rather than follow. For instance, why not invest in a good sports shoe such as an Adidas Carbon shoe (worth Rs 7500), or a Police shades(Rs 8000) or the latest mountain bicycle(Rs 26,000). Trust me, you will grab more eyeballs than your peers and what's better is that such assets will last as many years you want them to. While your friends waste their pocket money on latest gadgets why not outdo them by investing on a guitar (10K), or upgrade to an electric shaver (1.8K), a hiking kit with a Swiss knife(10K) or a pair of in-line Skates(8K). Imagine skating along the Marine drive while the rich duds goggle at their phone along the promenade. You are sure to get more eye balls flashing and more hearts racing. Believe you me, soon you would be leading the way among your friends rather than catching up the self professed technology geeks. This is Just a friendly advice to all my young friends here as I feel that the youth is being cheated by these cell phone producing MNCs. They are making you pay for their R&D for the next phone. In effect, you are financing obsoletion of your current phone model. A comparative study of top fortune 500 companies this year and about 10 years ago will indicate the companies which have ascended the fastest. Samsung, Apple, Nokia, LG are the players who have made hay when the sun shone in this field. Indian entrepreneurs have done their bit too and so names like Micromax, Maxx, Carbonn and others of this ilk, that import cheap electronics from china, have cropped up on the national industrial scene to displace companies that have spent a lifetime building India such as Dabur, Godrej and Hamdard etc. It’s time you pursed wholesome interests and get more out of your moolah.

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