The Era of Stand-Alone Electronic Devices is Ending

111It was 10-years ago this past Thursday that the iPhone went on sale. On that fateful day, I was using a company issued Blackberry Pearl. It was such an amazing upgrade from my old Motorola flip-phone that I got a couple of years earlier.

Cell Phone Evolution

It was 1983 that Motorola introduced the DynaTAC 8000X Advanced Mobile Phone System. It was with the DynaTAC in his hand that Michael Douglas told the world “greed is good” in the movie “Wall Street.”

This phone could make and receive calls from almost anywhere. But that was it.

I never had one of those phones, my first cell phone was a bag phone that sat in the front seat of my car with a wire running out of a rear window connected to a magnetic antenna on my car’s roof.

Only six years later, the Motorola MicroTAC 9800X would become the first truly portable phone. Having this phone was a real advancement as it now fit onto a belt clip and went everywhere I went. However, I was still using a Palm Pilot to keep track of my calendar, contacts and other notes and a Nikon Coolpix to record radio station events for posterity.

In 2004, I got my first Blackberry and in 2007 I upgraded to a Blackberry Pearl.

None of these phones really changed my life other than they got better at making and receiving calls, sent & received text messages and company emails could be sent and received. I still relied on other single use devices to do the other things in my life.

My 1st iPhone

One of my problems with iPhones were how big they were. I grew to love the size of my Blackberry Pearl and didn’t want to go backwards to a larger phone. (Later I would learn it was the huge cases people put their iPhones into that made them so large, not the phone itself.)

My second Apple device, after my iPod Classic, would be an iPad2, purchased in November 2011. I wasn’t sure why I needed one, but since I was teaching at a university to the next generation of broadcast students, I thought I needed to stay up with the technology.

I quickly fell in love with my iPad and realized I now knew how to fully operate an iPhone.  So, in January 2012, I purchased the latest iPhone that had just come out, the iPhone4s. The iPhone4s was actually more compact than my Pearl and I would store it in a leather sheath just as I had with my Pearl.

The iPhone4s WOULD change my life!

The Beginning of the End

The day that Apple introduced the iPhone4s – October 4, 2011 – was one day before the death of former Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs. The “s” stood for Apple’s new voice assistant Siri. (Siri would not be the first intelligent personal assistant but would be the one that would start a new round of innovation giving birth to Amazon’s Alexa and the Voice Activated Devices I wrote about last week.)

Equipped with my new iPhone4s, I quickly converted my entire contact file from Palm to Apple. My calendars – both personal & professional – were converted to my iPhone and iPad. My Nikon Coolpix began to gather dust as all of my pictures would be now taken with my new iPhone4s.

Being new to the Apple ecosystem, I signed up for the iCloud and iTunes match to connect my PC, iPad and iPhone all together. I was surprised to learn that many Apple devotees didn’t use these internet connected systems. But then I didn’t realize they only came on the scene a few months before I got my first iPhone.

Very quickly my iPhone4s replaced my camera, my video camera, my Palm Pilot, my cassette recorder, my note pad, my desk calendar, and even my iPod Classic. It became my way to email, text and make calls. My landline phone was discontinued the day I got my iPhone4s.

My unlimited data plan allowed me to stay connected to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Search. My phone became my resource for breaking news and if severe weather were imminent it would immediately alert me of pending danger.

Would bad weather cancel classes? My iPhone4s would alert me of any delayed opening or closing.

Very quickly my iPhone4s became one of three things I would not leave my house without: those being my wallet, my car keys and my iPhone.

Noteworthy is that Apple has made privacy “a fundamental human right” and is the only consumer-oriented technology giant with a business model not based on sucking up tons of personal data in order to target advertising to consumers, writes the Economist. In fact, this online business magazine says “the end of stand-alone electronic devices, however slick, is coming to an end.”

The End of Single Skill Students

What I’ve seen change in just the last seven years as a broadcast professor are the needs of the broadcasting industry in terms of what they want graduating students to know when they enter the workplace. In a word, EVERYTHING!

They need to be equipped with the “Swiss Army Knife” of skill-sets.

They need to be able to write for broadcast – online web-pages – social media, take pictures, take & edit videos, record & edit audio and so much more. Where once each one of these tasks was a single skill, today’s broadcaster needs to be able to it all. Much as we require of our electronic devices.

Cutting the Cord

When my laptop died, I replaced it with a MacBook Air. When it was time to replace my desktop PC, I bought an iMac. My iPhone4s has been replaced by an iPhone7 (that has as much memory as my MacBook Air) and AirPods. And when I moved to Virginia, I “cut the cord” on cable TV and went with AppleTV.

Everything is tied to the Apple ecosystem – iCloud, iTunes Match and to each other.

What I still enjoy using are my BOSE Wave Radios (I have two of them), my Garmin GPS and my car radio.

However, I know that my students have no such need for anything other than their smartphone.

And they are the people who will determine the future of broadcasting by the choices they make.

For radio the game will be less about numbers and more about attracting and engaging with a specific audience by super-serving their needs, wants and desires to such an extent they will find you on whatever device they choose to listen on.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

16 responses to “The Era of Stand-Alone Electronic Devices is Ending

  1. “Build it and they will come!” The more ways to tune in, the better. Happy 4th Weekend and please keep Radio Great! Clark, Boston

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Correction, with a Hat Tip to Rich Lewis Market President for iHeartMedia Philadelphia. The scene that Michael Douglas uses the DynaTAC phone is “This is your Wake Up Call” and you can view it here:

    Thanks Rich for reading the blog and for setting the record straight. -DT


  3. Jackie Toye

    Excellent! ….. (acknowledging the Michael Douglas moment correction … I worked in Sales for my local newspaper during that time and I remember wanting that phone … finally got it, and in a flash I was upgrading. bitter-sweet). the rest of the phone/blackberry journey, I completely identify with and even now at 50 with 24 and 25 year old millenials who will never listen to radio LIKE I listened (cassette recordings of songs and favorite dj’s and cool School Lunch menu memories) … they still listen because they STILL feel it puts them in connection with what’s going on “locally” … (in our 4th City) … tand even if they can detect the Talent is “piped in” … if the personality is relatable, they’ll still connect and will “quote them” in conversation .. I try to hide it but I get warm and fuzzy about that. (because I remember how I felt about my connection to BJ the DJ, Mellow Mike, Stan the Man, Ms. Yvette and ….. others)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jerry Stevens

    “It was 10-years ago this past Thursday that the iPhone went on sale. ”
    Marketing it as phone was genius. It was and remains a handheld computer that has many applications, only one of which makes phone calls. Making phone calls is actually the thing “smartphones” do least well. The old flip phone with it’s tactile keyboard is superior at making phone calls. The problem is that it doesn’t do much else.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is why any thought about revitalizing the AM band by building better receivers is 20 years too late. Nobody is carrying a smart phone and a radio, or is about to

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dbradionow

    Pls change to my new email

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


  7. Dick, I treasure this Blog! Your comments/observation/wisdom & especially the replies/feedback from those involved enough to Contribute.
    I agree on the AM. I have been retired from radio after 45 years of AM, mostly on FM.
    I miss the interaction with listeners (on-air, in-person).
    A dear friend on mine for 30+ of those years, Frank Anderson, has afforded me an exciting opportunity: to provide Two Hours of Programming on his “Internet Radio Network” – Everything is producedinmy studio.
    I produce a Two Hours “Classic Country” & Two Hour “’50s-’80s RnR show.
    I think this is the future. RaidioRiund the Click, Round the World.
    Overnights in America, is AMDrive & PMDrive in other parts of the world.
    The ‘intimacy of Radio’ isn’t restricted to Local Communities. I’ll keep you posted.


    • Thank you for your kind words about the blog. I very much appreciate all you said.

      I think you are on to something about what you’re doing being the future of radio. I’ve had similar thoughts

      Thank you for adding your perspective and enriching the experience for all who stop by. -DT


  8. This is why we have station Apple and Android apps, the cell phone is the new transistor radio. I don’t care how they listen to us, just that they do listen. We push AM, FM and stream listening equally. We think of the AM as the base, the glue that holds it all together. We have to look for more ways to make technology work with us and meld the analog and digital.
    Yes, I am typing this on an iPhone. It’s the same phone I use to do coaches pregame interviews for high school football, a clip of nat sound for a spot yesterday, check the station emails, take pictures, create social media posts and so on.


  9. Chuck Waggoner

    I really appreciate the commentary on how you implement devices in your life. It imparts a lot of ideas to think about and possibly adopt. There used to be much more of those personal insights on the Internet, but not so much today, and I miss getting ideas on how to do things better than the methods I have devised on my own.

    In 2001, we moved to Berlin, Germany for 10 glorious years. Before we left, I accumulated all the files from both of our computers, bought the largest hard drive possible and put it into a hand-me-down laptop (which the guy at the computer store wondered what I would ever do with that much space on a laptop), and that was stowed in the 1 suitcase each that we took to start life in Germany. Once we were situated, I installed an external monitor, external keyboard and mouse, plus a speaker system, and that was our sole computer for the first 4 years we lived there. It was not until a decade later that laptops became preferred over desktops, so I felt myself an early adopter, and people were amazed when they found out that I was really connected with a laptop and not a desktop.

    Almost as soon as we arrived, the cellphone came into our lives. In 2001, it was much more common in Germany than in the US, although at that time, it cost 15 cents to send a text message, and 60 cents for a one-minute phone call. Everyone texted, and there was a frequent comment about people who actually used the phone to talk: “Somebody else is paying for their phone.”

    I now find a Smartphone as indispensable as you do, with grocery and to-do lists kept there, credit card expenses entered for easy reconciliation when the statement arrives, checking emails and responding, and yes–still texting, because it’s less interruptive for the person receiving than a phone call.

    Since returning from Germany about 6 years ago now, television is 100% through Kodi. People of this era seem hard-pressed to conceive that there can be television without cable, but more and more are catching on, with Kodi, Roku, and Apple TV.

    Thanks again for the blog, and all the best as you move forward to new challenges!


    • WOW Chuck, that was an in depth contribution to the thoughts I shared. Thank YOU so very much for stopping by the blog and for taking the time to share your personal experiences. It’s very much appreciated. -DT


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