More from the Why Don’t We Have This? Chronicles! On a recent trip to Bangkok I saw that all the big mobile phone companies operated cafes and lounges in shopping centers where users could top up their phones, charge them, surf the web and basically just hang out. At the Siam Paragon, there was an entire floor that was devoted almost exclusively to these kinds of mobile phone lounges, some more impressive than the others. Thai mobile phone network True Move had a huge space where people were just hanging out texting and e-mailing, similar to the Apple stores, only with comfortable seating and nobody trying to sell you anything…well, at least not overtly.
Wouldn’t it be great if for the money you throw at AT&T or Verizon each month you were able to say, run into one of their shops and use the bathroom? And while you’re at it order an iced latte and wait for your phone to charge? It’s one thing to complain about Asian phone technology being more advanced than what’s available here in the US, but c’mon…this is just retail! Setting up brand spaces that invite people to just chill are not new — ING has been serving up Peet’s coffee and financial advice at their branded cafes for years, and seriously, when’s the last time you went into the Apple store to do something other than use the bathroom and check your email? It’s too bad that for all the hundreds of mobile phone vendors you see lining the streets, there isn’t a single one that you actually want to spend any time in! Instead of being a place you want to go, it’s a dreaded zone you have to enter only when something bad happens, like you dropped your phone in the toilet or you need a new battery. In the US we equate these spaces with taking a number and waiting for somebody who has no idea what they are talking about try to sell you something you don’t want. You’d think you deserve at least a coffee for that!