Time to be human

What makes people crazy about smartphone is that it is the kind of technology that doesn’t only create a better way of communication; it creates a completely new lifestyle. You are somewhere in the city that’s completely strange to you and you are looking for a restaurant to eat. In the past you could find a good one because you are lucky. Now you find a good one because you are “smartphoned”. There is no doubt that smartphone is taking over the world.

Seeing this fast growing market, there’s no way the carriers should fall behind. 3G, 4G, and now 4G LTE, all these came out in only a few years. All the carriers are competing on speed, connection, cloud services, etc. People are certainly benefiting from the progress. However, it seems that all major carriers are now facing same perception challenge: “People really love their technology but don’t love their carrier.”

Although it is AT&T is “an emotional lifestyle brand that lets you live your life more expansively and brings you new experiences and new value”, clearly there’s a gap of perception between the carrier and the consumers. Why did this happen?

AT&T, along with other big carriers, has been focusing on improving the wireless network in terms of speed, connectivity, capacity, etc. It seems to me that these carriers have sunk into an endless competition over technology. This is no bad. However these words in fact remind me of futurism, a social movement of the 20th century. It glorified speed, technology, and violence and war. It valued humanity, but only for its power to create and to destroy. They advocated technological progress so much that they ignored the importance of feelings and experiences, so is AT&T today and other carriers.

People today are not satisfied with only the high speed and all the convenience created by technology. They care more about “what can I do with it?” Smartphone has enabled infinite possibilities, yet many people haven’t seen a tip of the iceberg.

AT&T is trying to help people with their exploration, which evolves its Rethink Possible tagline it launched two years ago to focus more on human experiences.

At the Ad Age Digital Conference in New York on April 18th, Gregg Heard, VP of AT&T, presented to the audience a commercial from its new campaign that “did not tout the speed of its network or its coverage area — both tactics widely used in the carrier industry — but, rather, showed how a woman’s phone was the means to tell her entire world that she got a new acting gig”.

Also, AT&T will soon open a brand flagship store on Michigan Avenue, Chicago, that will focus more on the services they provide. “Merchandising will be more experience-focused, where there’s a larger focus on mobile apps and what you can do with handsets, organized around, for example, categories such as health care or security”.

It is time to be more human.

-Audrey Xiong

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