When should I buy a 5G phone? How tech companies misuse buzzwords to make a sale.

Photo by Sebastian Kanczok on Unsplash

5G is here. An exciting new dawn which turns your mobile into a supercomputer. Now your mobile can change the very fabric of space time, transport you to a new world of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it download speeds, new realities, flying cars and androids.

What? You don’t have a 5G-enabled phone yet?

You’re missing out on… well… umm… not much really.

Because the really exciting stuff that 5G enables doesn’t have all that much to do with consumer mobile phones. The whole faster download speeds is just an easy selling point that a wider audience can easily grasp. It’s a sales pitch. A 5G enabled phone won’t change your life, or the world around you. It’ll largely just make downloading movies a bit faster.

So when should I get a 5G phone?

This is easy… as soon as you’re no longer paying a premium for the benefit. If the handset you’re buying costs significantly more because it is 5G enabled, and if you tend to change your phone every couple of years — you should wait. You’re not missing out on game changing tech.

Yet.

Tech buzzwords as a sales tool

I’ve touched on jargon in the past, particularly the god-awful tech jargon that has become so commonplace in the development community. I’ve made a conscious effort to weed it out of my day-to-day life and I’m supporting the rest of my team as they try to follow suit.

Not everyone feels the same apparently, and the desperation to make a sale has started to drive a new trend in tech jargon.

Decades of buzzword boll%cks

For decades the tech industry has been leaning on nice little technical buzzwords to close a sale. Some of them have been valid. Others have been massively inflated to encourage customers to upgrade, buy new hardware or invest in new software.

I’m from a generation that will still remember the 486 PC years. I’ll wager that any number of you out there knew someone who was rocking a Pentium processor whilst your family desktop was a wheezing 486. Or in my case an utterly crap 386.

The rapid evolution in home computing obviously demanded hardware upgrades, but at the time much of the lingo was thrown around to help inflate costs. And these things were expensive back then as this brilliant LA Times article points out

Clock speeds, RAM, Storage, OS… Over the years all of these have been used by the tech industry to sell and upsell. 8-bit, 16 bit and 32-bit games consoles. VHS, DVD, Blu-ray. 4k. UHD. Broadband. Sticking an ‘i’ infront of anything.

It’s been going on for years.

It’s not just the jargon that is a problem

Somehow, as the world has become increasingly digital and as we have become more digitally aware, the sales pitch and buzzwords have bizarrely become more frequent. And the claims that they make have become more outlandish.

AI is a particularly noticeable offender. I’ve been in endless pitch meetings where I’ve been asked whether AI can solve a key problem. Sometimes the answer is yes. Most of the time the solution isn’t suitable for deploying an AI. Raised on a diet of Sci-Fi and tech overclaims, we assume AI is smarter than us.

This week Elon Musk admitted something that a lot of people already knew. Building autonomous cars is very, very hard. Yet Tesla, Uber and others have been throwing round automation as a term for years.

Remember Project Milo? The Kinect demo? Urgh.

The history of tech is littered with piles of overhyped tech that could never live up to the expectations it promised.

Tech continues to overpromise and underdeliver

It frustrates me that when technology does deliver such incredible tools and benefits to society that we as an industry continue to oversell our wares all to grab a cheap buck.

5G will be transformative across a staggering array of industries. It will make our lives better. And in the longer term it will turn our phones into an even more impressive device. So stop using it to whack an extra £300 on the price of a handset or an extra tenner on the price of a phone contract.

AI is already changing our world — a recent survey found that just 33% of consumers thought they had used an AI service, when in fact the number that had used an AI service was actually 77%. But AI ain’t going to drive you to work any time soon. And it certainly won’t render entire workforces obsolete.

If only more of us would draw a line in the sand and stick to our guns. Rather than throwing out bigger and bigger promises and hiding behind buzzwords.

If only the ever-hungry news cycle didn’t buy into the sh*t and run endless stories on the back of specious PR pitches. If only bodies like the ASA called out more companies for their over-enthusiastic advertising claims.

Let’s stop spouting b*llocks just to get featured in the latest edition of whatever newspaper, magazine, news show, youtube channel or website you choose.

And don’t pay through the nose for a 5G phone.

Oh and for a slightly tongue in cheek take on the traditional tech overpromise check out this…

Thom Gibbons is CEO of Apptaura, an app development agency that specialises in building apps for engineering, service and technical businesses. Thom is already working with a couple of clients on integrating 5G technology into specific areas of their business. He doesn’t have a 5G phone yet.

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Thom is CEO of www.apptaura.com the app development agency that wants to change our world with great code. Uniquely crazy, odd sock wearing. Aims to inspire.

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Thom Gibbons

Thom Gibbons

Thom is CEO of www.apptaura.com the app development agency that wants to change our world with great code. Uniquely crazy, odd sock wearing. Aims to inspire.

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