Up Front - Legends Never Die

Thu, 10/02/2008 - 10:49pm
Rhonda Wickham, Editor-in-Chief

But bad raps and missed opportunities last longer.

Last night, I joined Tina Turner for the kickoff of her U.S. tour, which began at Sprint Center in Kansas City. In my mind, Turner is the quintessential performer and entertainer. At nearly 69, she outsang and outdanced many performers I have seen who are half her age. (Any other performer who wants to use the moniker of “legend” should take a course in Tina 101 before even thinking about adding that nomenclature of royalty.)

Rhonda Wickham
Rhonda Wickham

From my Level 2 vantage point at the Sprint Center, it was evident that cell phones have clearly replaced yesteryear’s Bic lighters at concerts. Looking around the arena, the screens of thousands of cell phones created a warm patchwork of twinkly lights throughout the concert as well as during the encore.

In the end, though, I discovered my device wasn’t good for much more than letting its one little light shine.

Being the music nut that I am, this concert was a major event. After Tina retired eight years ago, I swore I would pay any price and go just about anywhere to see her perform. Lucky for me, she started her tour in my hometown.

I of course smuggled in my 4-megapixel camera wanting to record my friends as well as steal some shots of the diva for memory’s sake. For most events, my camera with zoom takes pretty good pictures. However, the darkened arena in which my subject was so far away resulted in dark and grainy shots that were further compromised by all of the stage lighting in the background.

When I determined that my camera wasn’t going to yield impressive concert photos, I decided to try my cell phone. The result from my LG Venus, which features a 2-megapixel camera, was awful. Not only that, but one snapped picture sucked so much battery juice I was afraid the battery would die before I got home to recharge it.

Sitting next to me, however, was my friend Brandy who put my device to shame with her Motorola KRZR. It too features 2-megapixel capability but it yielded sharper, more focused pictures. Even the pictures of Tina from the Jumbotron screens came out better.

But my gripe isn’t with my LG device, which performs just fine for voice and most other data applications. It is about the unevenness of feature performance among handsets. At intermission, Brandy became the star of our entire section as everyone saw her phone’s artistry and sharp images. Her device not only outdid my LG device, but it shamed a Motorola RAZR as well as devices from Nokia and Samsung.

She then became our seating area’s “dealer” of photos worthy of screensavers by texting copies of her photos to folks around her, myself included.

(Obviously, the whole idea of taking pictures with my phone was to send them to friends outside of the arena so they could be jealous of where I was and what I was doing. Not to be daunted by my camera’s limitations, I simply forwarded Brandy’s shots. Only problem is they didn’t arrive until this morning, nearly eight hours after Tina left the stage.)

Finally, on the drive home from the concert, my KRZR-bearing friend started replaying short video clips she had captured of Tina on her device. Although the clips were somewhat marred with audible hoots and hollers the device picked up from yours truly, she also had effectively recorded about three different segments of the evening’s performance. And her battery was still juiced and ready to go.

This week, WDSGlobal released a study saying that 20% of features on phones are not used regularly, and up to 25% are not discovered. I interpreted that to mean there might be too many features on devices to be used by consumers. But after last night’s experience, I realize the industry isn’t doing enough to capitalize on the viral nature of consumer use and recommendation.

Everyone in our proximity at the arena was trying to capture as good of shots as Brandy. But each of us was disappointed with the results from our personal devices. We simply closed our phones and put them away.

But what would happen if we six or seven cameraphone picture takers had beautifully recorded Tina highlights? We would all use the camera feature more often. We would recommend that use to friends. And we would share our bounty by exchanging lots of photos.

And the same goes for video clips and any other number of features and applications on devices.

With near-100% cell phone penetration in the United States, it’s time for all new devices to deliver comparable results so that the good experience of some customers inspires others to also try out new features. And then maybe there won’t be so many “undiscovered” features.

By the way, besides discovering that my device takes awful concert pictures, I also discovered there are some floor seats available for Tina’s second performance next week. I’m thinking of going, but I may just have to borrow my friend’s KRZR for the night.


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