Back in 2008, a Norwegian entrepreneur Petter Neby realized the reason for communication gap between him and his step-daughter. Their cell-phones were getting in the way. After several years of thinking, Neby worked out a solution in the form of another phone. That’s when Neby’s company, Punkt was born. The company stands among those startups which aims to bring back the good old-fashioned humanity and provide an escape from the anxiety and addiction induced by the smartphones. Since these devices do a little more than making calls, the owners feel the freedom they had before they got addicted to their smartphones.
The Light Phone stood out for it’s sleek and brief design. It was first created in 2015 by Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang in Newyork. This smooth rectangular phone has no camera, apps external keys or screen. Instead, it uses light to simulate a dial pad on a translucent surface. All this phone can do is make or receive calls and store up to 9 contacts on its speed dials.
Neby’s MP-01, on the other hand, features 3D buttons, ability to set the alarm, send text messages, connect via Bluetooth and check a calendar. It also has a 2-inch black and white display which can show only a couple of lines of text.
Its Kickstarter campaign initially funded the Light, and it has so far sold 11,000 devices in over 50 countries in its launching year. Punkt sells 50,000 to 100,000 devices per year which include MP-01 and some other items like alarm clocks. The visual aesthetics of these devices are very hard to ignore. The unusual shapes and greyscale color palettes are easy on the eyes. Neby said that this is the exact reaction which he and his company wanted to get.
Irrespective of background or preference, there is always a desire to stand out from the crowd in some way. If you think you are unique and you cannot relate to those around you, it is not a very good feeling. On the other hand, if you are in the Marines and look the same as others, then your desire to feel unique cannot be fulfilled. According to Block, these phones have found a happy middle point. The devices give users the freedom to stay away from their smartphones while still being able to keep the necessary functionalities with them.
Media theorist, Douglas Rushkoff believes that the phone’s supporters are reacting to a phenomenon called present shock. The notifications, messages, and system of modern smartphones have made us feel as if we are continually trying to catch up with the present moment. Before that, the only people who we called so frequently were the emergency call operators. Now people are turning to phones like Punkt and Light to avoid these constant interruptions. Some celebrities have downgraded from their smartphones to these phones. Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Anna Wintour, Daniel Day-Lewis and Warren Buffet have used these basic and cheap phones instead of smartphones.
The main problem that we are facing today as humans and technology consumers are the conflation of chronos and kairos. These two are the different methods of timekeeping. Chronos is standard time, and Kairos is human time. Rushkoff says that kairos time is a type of biological clock which is affected with natural events like seasons, day night, weather, and emotional state of the people. The smartphone technology is the one that pulls us towards the world of chronos time and interferes with the kairos time. It is hard to lose smartphones, but societal behavior can be changed a lot by doing this practice.