Why Startup Founders Should Use Old Phones


Here’s a picture of my phone:


It is so old that it looks new again.  Why do I use such an old phone?  Wrong question.  The right question is: Why are you using a newer one? Let me explain.

Back in the dawn of time (~2005), I was responsible for product development at Bunk1.  Time after time, a member of our dev team would tell me that a feature was ready for testing. Knowing that over 70%+ of our users were running Internet Explorer (hey, it was 2005), I would open the page up on IE and… instant fail.  Virtually all of our tech team used Macs and surfed the web using Safari.  When they tested the new feature, it worked for them so they were ready to push live.  See the problem?

Yes, it is very important to be on top of the trends.  Yes, following the cutting edge is critical to your long-term planning.  But if you build your current feature set around what the best tech can do, you risk leaving the bulk of your potential users behind.

Let’s say you get the latest phone running the most recent Android OS.  Then you build an app that completely rocks… on your phone.  But what about the >90% of the Android phones out there running older versions of Android?  Does your app work properly for them?  You are probably ready to object, “but they’ll update the OS on their phones soon enough.”  Perhaps, but what about the hardware?  Slower processors, less onboard memory… how fast will your app respond?  I have seen several apps look incredibly slick on the latest phones only to see them hang horribly on slightly older models.  Can you take that risk?


Now let’s say you use an average phone.  As you can see from the graph below, now over half the market is on par or ahead of you.  If your app works on your phone, you’ve got nothing to worry about from them.  As for the much older phones, they probably drag for everything and their owners are just toughing out the last few months until they’ve completed their two year stint and to get their ‘free’ upgrade.  Those users aren’t going to blame your app if it hangs; they’ll just curse their phone – the same one they drooled over just 18 months before – and soldier on.


Hey, I know you want the cool toys, but you’ve got a tech empire to build.  So suck it up and get behind the curve!

About the author: Andrew Ackerman

Andrew Ackerman is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, sometimes angel investor, and proud father of three daughters.  He is currently Managing Director in charge of DreamIt’s NY accelerator program.You can keep up with Andrew on his blog As Angels See It, LinkedIn, and on AngelList.

Dreamit is currently recruiting for the upcoming winter program with industry tracks in Health & Education and Dreamit Overdrive for startups in all sectors and at all stages. Apply here.

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