Tuesday, January 4, 2011

AA for Sober Technogeeks

If there was an Android-holics Anonymous group in my area, or at all, I'd probably join it. I pined for the Droid since before my last cell phone plan expired, but I promised myself two things: First, that I'd wait until my plan ran out; second, that if version two wasn't out by then, I'd wait still longer.

I almost never buy version one of any technology, with few exceptions (namely, software-- alpha- and beta-test versions are usually cheaper and often come with the perk of free upgrades to the next version). Just as I promised myself back in 2007: give eBook readers five years to mature, then I'll look at buying one.

Back to Androids.

Fortunately, when my previous contract expired, the Droid II was fresh on the market and sales and deals were still fresh in everybody's stores. I bought one and I love it, except for the parts that I don't. It reboots itself without warning and sometimes won't wake up, but this isn't a review.

What I'm here to talk about is the refusal-to-pay-for-apps phenomenon. I have been a part of this movement, and critics and social commentators think it's funny. I bought a two hundred-dollar phone (three hundred minus one hundred mail-in rebate), pay one-thirty a month in service charges (including my unlimited texting, unlimited internet, and smallest possible number of minutes), and I refuse to pay ninety-nine cents for software.

I don't think this is ridiculous at all. It's easy for me to justify that my phone is a personal investment in my professional life. It allows me to stay connected even when I'm on the go, especially since I haven't invested in a laptop. So unless I can find an app that I can justify as a personal investment in progressing myself personally and professionally, there's no reason to pay for it. I know 99c seems like a trifling amount, but it's easy to get addicted to getting new apps, and once you break the barrier of paying for one, it's easier to justify paying for more.

For many apps that you're asked to pay for, there's one or two free ones out there that do the same job, though you have to hunt them down sometimes. Occasionally, it's a matter of finding two free apps that each do half the workload of the one you'd pay for. It's just a matter of doing the legwork.

Security apps: free (LookOut)
Games: free (Unblock, tetris, minecraft)
Networking: free (twitter, facebook, tumblr, linkedin, buzz)
Instant Messaging: free (Google talk, aol, msn, icq)
Word Processing: free (Google Docs)
Books: free (if you don't mind rereading the classics, but there are too many people who haven't read them)

That's everything I need in my laptop, installed for free on my phone, and I don't have to worry about hunting down wifi.

Hi, my name is Ace, and I'm an Android-holic who won't pay for apps.