Whether or not anyone will actually care at the end of the day is debatable, but one device retailer has published a list of dos and donts for those conflicted over the use of their handheld devices.
Mobile device e-tailer LetsTalk released its users guide to cell phone etiquette, which while seemingly obvious, is actually based on what the company identifies as comprehensive annual surveys on cell behavior dating back as far as 2000.
The list may appear painfully evident to those people who already consider themselves considerate in how they wield their handhelds, but those same people may take solace in the fact that the guide exists to educate the seemingly ubiquitous masses of mobile owners who have yet to realize that subtlety and refinement arent only for the dinner table.
The purpose for publishing the guide, beyond the shameless public relations opportunity, is improving the general publics use of its mobile calling capabilities, said Delly Tamer, CEO of LetsTalk.
Tamer concedes that improved mobile manners may also improve overall phone sales, and contends that by offering the guideline his company is giving people another reason to shop there.
“My firm belief is that consumers are really looking for guidance on the right cell phone etiquette,” said Tamer, with a chuckle.
“Manners often lag technology when there are new social norms to consider; we shouldnt turn cell phone use into something bigger than what it is, but if we all jointly understand what is right and what isnt, that benefits everyone.”
Tamer would not go so far as to suggest that individuals should have to sign a behavior-oriented end-user agreement before being allowed to purchase wireless subscriptions.
He also refused to comment on the practice of carrying a copy of the etiquette guide to hand to strangers who yap about their latest golf game on the quiet car of your local commuter train, or how to extract yourself from any physical struggle that could arise from applying the guideline in such a way.
The most obvious recommendation offered by the guide is to mute your mobile when appropriate, which is fairly easy to understand for anyone who has ever been anyplace purportedly quiet since the dawn of the wireless era, in particular those who attend IT conference keynotes.
LetsTalk predictably advises setting your cell on vibrate in such locations, but it does offer the helpful advice to leave your device in an easily accessible position when doing so, as unexpected vibrating pockets and luggage can attract unwanted attention.
Choosing a mobile ring tone that you wont regret is another piece of advice suggested by the etiquette report, which seems particularly apropos now that audible lyrics are making their way onto wireless devices, and since rap music remains so popular.
“Your kids may love your Fred Flintstone YabbaDabbaDoo! ring tone, but it might not be a hit in the board room,” advises LetsTalk.
One might conclude from this that 50 Cent could go over even worse.
Loud Talkers Yapping on
Cell Phones in Public Places”>
Another area covered by the guideline is the maintenance of proper vocal volume, which while seemingly aimed at the retirement set, does attempt to address one of the fundamental issues plaguing the mobile world: people who simply speak too loudly.
The report specifically suggests keeping your voice down when in close proximity to others such as in line at a coffee shop or on public transportation, or when discussing personal matters that could be offensive or annoying to people around you.
Kindly, the guideline does not suggest that people who need this piece of advice may actually just need to get a clue.
With text messaging invading our wireless devices, LetsTalk reasserts that doing so while driving is probably not a good idea.
The company offers no statistics on the number of crashed BMWs sacrificed in the name of proving this point of etiquette.
Of course, there are times when you simply must answer a call in a potentially sensitive setting, and in those cases it is acceptable to do so if you properly excuse yourself before picking up, according to the report.
By openly establishing with whomever is calling that you are not available to speak, and asking them if there is some sort of pressing reason for the call, you can also prove your mobile manners, suggests the guideline.
Another burgeoning area demanding new wireless refinement is the growing presence of cameras on mobile devices, and the report reminds that its best to have your subjects permission before snapping a picture.
The etiquette guide lists public locker rooms and swimming pools as places where its wise to use extreme caution when snapping away. Doing so may also save any aspiring photographers from being arrested or getting beat up.
In a related study, LetsTalk also released new demographics regarding peoples perceptions about just where it is appropriate to use your handheld, and more importantly where it is not.
In another submission to the seemingly obvious, locales including bathrooms, movies and theaters are considered off limits to most individuals, while automobiles and supermarkets are seen as within the boundaries of good taste.
Thankfully, the study does find that U.S. adult cell phone owners are less likely to feel it is generally acceptable to speak on their cell phones in the bathroom or in restaurants than they were two years ago. Still, the guide recommends watching out for more drivers and shoppers multitasking on their phones in the coming years.
According to a report commissioned by LetsTalk and conducted by pollsters Harris Interactive, only 38 percent of the 2,000 people it surveyed felt it was acceptable to use a mobile in the toilet, compared to as much as 62 percent in 2003. Only 2 percent of those interviewed felt it was fine to use a wireless at the movies or in a theater, down from 11 percent in 2000.
Use of cell phones in cars is enjoying a renaissance according to the study, with 63 percent of those surveyed identifying the practice as suitable. While 76 percent of respondents agreed that calling while driving was OK in 2000, less than 50 percent had approved of the idea in studies conducted in 2002 and 2003.
On this point, LetsTalks Tamer leaves the joking aside for a minute.
“People are starting to have fewer reservations about driving and doing a million other things, and underestimate the danger of multitasking while operating a vehicle,” said Tamer.
“The technology to help prevent accidents is already there, ready for them to use, but people always assume the worst will happen to someone else; in this case the technology is here to help our lives, but a lot of people are taking it to an extreme.”
It should be noted that LetsTalk also markets a wide range of hands-free calling accessories.