If you watch television for even a few minutes a day you will inevitably see a commercial from one of the major cell phone companies pushing their super fast 4G network. It is a four sided ongoing battle with one clear winner…marketing departments.
A recent survey done by Retrevo has revealed that a shocking number of smartphone users in the U.S. have no freaking clue what 4G really is. iPhone owners are by far the most in the dark.
The survey asked one simple question: Do you plan on buying a 4G phone in the next year? That fairly straightforward question produced some shocking results.
35% of iPhone users said there was no need to buy a new 4G phone because they already had one. Apparently iPhone users aren't aware that the number 4 in the iPhone 4 stands for the 4th generation iPhone and has nothing at all to do with the number of G with which is travels the airwaves.
RIM caters to the business crowd, so you would think that they would be much more savvy. However, 24% of respondents with Blackberry phones also think that they already own a 4G phone. Considering there are no 4G capable Blackberry phones available anywhere in the world, that too shows a disturbing level of misunderstanding.
As it stands, Android is the only operating system that has produced 4G phones. There is at least one 4G capable Android phone on each of the major carriers. Still, 29% of Android users polled in the survey claim to already be rocking that extra G. While it is entirely possible that Retrevo randomly asked people who purchased their phones in the last few months, but that seems highly unlikely.
What's only slightly more depressing is that what the major carriers are calling 4G isn't even necessarily 4G. There are some pretty loose guidelines that a network needs to meet in order to be classified as 4G right now, and there is no one standard either. The major U.S. carriers are either using LTE or HSPA networks. Neither one of which has officially been approved as 4G, merely submitted as a candidate.
When push comes to shove, unless you are downloading the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy at once, you aren't likely to see too noticeable of a difference between your crummy 3G phone and most 4G capable phones. The real difference is only now really becoming apparent as more phones are equipped with more powerful processors.
And if you're really that confused as to whether or not your phone is 3G or 4G just turn it on. Right next to where you phone tells you how many bars it has, it also tells you if you are on the 3G or 4G network.
The shocking number of people who clearly aren't using a 4G phone but think they are shows that marketing departments are doing a great job of being extremely ambiguous while getting people really excited. That, or salespeople in the retail stores are extremely dishonest or equally clueless when selling phones to customers.
Posted by David Yi, Social Media and SEO Assistant at Wireless Emporium