Can a Phone Save Us from Our Phones?

The “iPhone effect” is well documented, and so are its symptoms: distractibility, a severe attention deficit and a diminished connection to the outside world. Not only does the iPhone effect exploit a learning drive in our brain circuitry, it also potentially deprives our minds of needed downtime.

As hard as I might try, there are times when my iPhone gets the better of me. I creep off into that all-too-familiar place of caring more about the content on my phone than the conversation of the people around me. I’m not proud of it. In fact, when the tables are turned, I have nothing but disdain for people who choose their phones over personal interaction. Yet, I sometimes can’t help noticing that I just got the brand new boomerang bird from Angry Birds, I’m in the middle of a WootOff or my fantasy team is begging for attention.

Late last year, during the launch of their Windows Phone platform, Microsoft released a series of TV ads that carried the tagline: “It’s time for a phone to save us from our phones.” Here’s the ad for those of you who haven’t seen it.

We thought the idea was so interesting that we actually decided to ask members of our IdeaSpace for their thoughts on this provoking commercial. (Communispace maintains and operates the IdeaSpace, comprising three proprietary communities that provide clients with always-on, ad hoc access for in-depth consumer feedback and input on everything from brand perceptions to shopping behavior and purchase drivers. Learn more about IdeaSpace.

Here‘s a peek at some of the reactions from our IdeaSpace Community members:

  • “First off, I loved the commercial — it was hilarious!! But I have a problem with the concept — the only way we will be saved from our phones is if we have self-control. No phone will do it for us.”
  • “I think Microsoft is telling us you can use their phones more quickly and more efficiently than other phones for getting the information you desire. I could certainly buy this notion for a more efficient phone!”
  • “If people are so stuck to their phones that they are forgetting what’s going on around them, the phone is not the problem. It’s a question of manners.”

We are packaging the analysis from this project along with a number of other mobile usage explorations into a larger study later this year. More details about this study will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to pose the same questions to the blogosphere that we asked our members, and see what you all think.

Here’s what we asked:

  1. How would you summarize the main message of this ad? What do you think Microsoft is trying to convey here
  2. Can you relate to the ad’s message? In what ways does it apply to your life? In what ways does it not?
  3. Finally, do you buy the notion that a phone could actually save us from our phones?

So … where do you stand?

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