Give The Gift Of Digital Simplification

Danielle Beurteaux

Modern, sleek, and stylish, the Punkt. MP01 is a cell phone that’s been stripped of anything but design cred. The New York Times called it the “The Anti-Smart Phone.” It does two things: calls and texts. That’s it. If, by any chance, you’ve actually looked at the offerings for what are now often called “basic phones,” you’ll notice there’s not a lot available. The push is to get more consumers to sign up for smartphones.

But Punkt. has a philosophy—one device, one task. The Lugano, Switzerland-based company also offers an alarm clock, a cordless phone (which was its first product), a charger, and an extension socket that keeps cables tidy. It also has a mantra: “Technology. Tamed.” Its website explains:

“We love technology but believe that everyday existence is getting overloaded by all the functions, notifications, options and updates that come with having state of the art devices at our fingertips round the clock.”

And one way to minimize the overload is to simplify the device.

Is Punkt. at the forefront of a trend or an outlier? Maybe a bit of both.

You’ve probably heard about the studies that find too much Internet time makes us depressed, that smartphones are destroying any work-life balance we have left, and social media can make us miserable. And then there’s the difficulty of looking up from your device—but many apps and platforms are designed to be addictive.

Tech simplification might be the answer.

Well, it turns out plenty of people are holding onto their “dumb” phones with their lives. There’s still a healthy market for basic phones, and not just in developing countries—there are people who want simple primary phones or a second phone for backup, or who even consider them status symbols. There was a bit of a wig-out when Vogue’s Anna Wintour used an old-school flip phone recently. Turns out she has a lot of phones, flip, basic, and smart.

She’s not the only one. People are keeping their phones as long as they can because they don’t see the point in upgrading, and/or they suffer technology fatigue. Just look at pop star Adele, whose flip phone stars in the video for her song “Hello” (in fact, it’s like an homage to vintage telephone technology).

Even some app makers are employing simplified means of delivery. As described in this Bloomberg piece, savings tool Digit operates via text to keep it simple for users and to launch more quickly. “Apps without interface,” which primarily use text functions, are gaining steam just as app sales and usage are flatlining. Most people use the same number of apps each month, but they’re spending more time on them.

Another old-school accessory, the demise of which has been prematurely predicted, is the watch. Watch sales are set to grow this year by 5 percent in the U.S. alone. A part of that $11.1 billion market comprises quartz analogue watches, which make up 68 percent of that figure by volume. Mechanical watches aren’t doing badly, either.

Or you could try a device to counteract the effects of all your other devices. A new wearable called Spire measures your stress levels by tracking your breathing, and sends a reminder to your smartphone that you need to take a moment to chill. “That simplicity of the feedback is what makes it so applicable and what makes it so actionable in daily life,” Spire co-founder Neema Moraveji told CBS Boston.

For more on the role of technology in our everyday lives, see Top Mobile Strategy Should Focus On People, Not Technology.


Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.