Smartphones are essentially an American idea, as witnessed by the healthy sales of the iPhone. In other parts of the world, phones manufactured by Motorola and Nokia, for instance, enjoy more circulation. These phones are not capable, however, of using many of the apps Americans use on their phones. Credit card swiping is used more for American needs than is used in other parts of the world. Science, statistical and financial apps, as well, are basic American apps used by everyone from biomedical researchers to college students. While these apps are useful, indeed even necessary, smartphones pose distractions to everyone.
Employment Law Advisory Services (ELAS) has been taking calls from employers who have equipped their sales personnel with smartphones for business purposes, but whose productivity is falling. Rapid email, file sharing, financial information and a dozen other apps are at the disposal of such personnel for business purposes. These employees, however, are distracted by tweets and other social media notifications, so they check these, which takes time away from business. The twenty minutes that swapping emails used to take is now stretching into thirty to ninety minutes per day in lost business due to social media and surfing the web. ELAS has advised employers that reclaiming smartphones in favor of ordinary phones is no threat to employment contracts.
Farm work is suffering from smartphone use, as well. Agriculture can benefit, too, from smartphone use, in terms of recording productivity, yield, plant and harvest dates, meetings at the co-op, and so on. However, some farmers have begun to note that their field personnel are texting when they should be working, and are wondering how to eliminate the problem. Agriculturists are finding that texting suppliers, growers, other employees and business contacts only during breaks of a certain time limit are allowing their employees to become more productive.
Whether people watch TV or videos online, advertising is going to interrupt their viewing. Studies by video ad tech in combination with media lab companies show that among people who watch television, most all checked out their smartphone when ads came on. Among those watching videos online, the distraction posed by the ads themselves kept people from paying attention. This would seem to indicate that a strong case for mobile advertising could be made, since smartphones distract people from watching ads on TV or online. If people ignore those, they also seem to pay more attention to ads on their smartphones.
Smartphones are used by around 26% of Americans. Other phones may have Internet access, but the apps used for business, school, research and the like cannot be accessed. While such a small percentage of the populace is using the ultimate distraction, still other work is getting done, even if it is tweeted or shown on other social media using a tracking app like Foursquare. Users will go to these places, if only to check it out, because they saw it on their smartphone. Such a distraction can work for the good.