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Juggling lives and, now, phones

More opt for a 2d device to keep work, play separate

(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Michael B. Farrell
Globe Staff / October 27, 2011

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For Charleen Archambault, one is not enough.

The dining director at Brooksby Village Retirement Community in Peabody carries two: an HTC smartphone for work and a LG flip phone for family. She prefers to keep her two worlds separate - and it just does not feel right to text her 20-year-old son on her work phone.

“His generation,’’ she said, “texts more than they talk.’’

For all the money mobile companies spend to win customer loyalty, a small but growing number of the hyperconnected are choosing to tote more than one phone. Why pick among Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows when you can have multiple platforms?

None of the major carriers - Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint - track the number of customers who use more than one mobile phone. It is difficult because many dual-device users have a company-issued mobile that runs on one carrier while their personal cellphone operates on another.

Who could possibly need two? Think securities traders, bankers, event planners, doctors, or IT professionals, to name a few. And then there are some who just love gadgets. But as mobile phones have become an essential part of social lives, their work-issued wireless is no longer enough. And the corporate cellphone - much like the corporate wardrobe - does not allow for much self-expression.

That Beyoncé ringtone, for one, might not go over so well in the office.

Such freedom is why Adrienne Maley is willing to foot a bill of nearly $100 a month for an iPhone 4. That way, said the 40-year-old event planner with CIO Executive Council in Framingham, she does not have to worry about what to say and what not to say on her company-issued BlackBerry.

“I like to keep my personal stuff on a personal device,’’ she said.

And at least when she is carrying her personal cellphone, said Maley, she will not “pocket dial’’ her boss at any inopportune times.

For Allison Pincus-Jacobs, it is all about unplugging from work.

Her BlackBerry, with its blinking red light, acts a constant reminder of e-mails waiting to be answered and work yet to be done for the 29-year-old director of programs at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. The sleek features of her iPhone 4, which is her own, allows her to more easily text, tweet, and post to Facebook.

Having two phones means you always have a backup in case one runs out of power. But it also means figuring out who gets which phone number and checking two voicemail boxes. Pincus-Jacobs resolves those issues by not making any calls on her BlackBerry.

But she has not figured out everything. “It does get challenging when I want to put them both in my pocket,’’ she said. “It can weigh you down.’’

Recognizing that more employees and employers want to keep mobile lives distinct, three major carriers have recently announced services that let smartphone users switch between a business mode and a personal mode on a single device.

AT&T Toggle, introduced earlier this month, creates a distinct environment for corporate e-mail, for instance, on an employee’s own phone. Then at a tap of a button, the employee can go into a personal mode to play games, for example. This separation allows employees to use their own phones off the clock, while giving the company IT department oversight of the phone’s work mode.

The need to be plugged-in on multiple levels is prevalent among smartphone users. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project in Washington found that 83 percent of Americans own a cellphone, and nearly half of those carry a smartphone. Of those smartphone owners, 65 percent have two or more other types of mobile devices such as a laptop, tablet, or digital music player.

But even with the proliferation of gadgets, people who use two phones remain a rare breed.

“It’s still very much the exception and not the norm,’’ said Ramon Llamas, an analyst with International Data Corp. in Framingham. He thought he would see many more people using two phones when the smartphone market began exploding. From 2009 to 2010, it grew 52 percent.

“We love our cool and sexy phones because they do so much, but are we willing to have multiple phones?’’ he asked. Most, he said, do not think it is worth the trouble.

But Seth Priebatsch couldn’t imagine having one phone or even just two. Among his multiple phones are three of Apple’s newest smartphone, the iPhone 4S, which was released earlier this month.

And sometimes they all ring at once. “I tell people I’m super popular,’’ he said.

Priebatsch, 22, certainly isn’t the norm. He’s the so-called head ninja of SCVNGR, the social media gaming company in Cambridge. He has the iPhones on all three major carriers to test how his apps run on each service.

Not all two-fisted cellphone users stay that way.

“It was so annoying,’’ said Larry Peruzzi, a 49-year-old securities trader who lives in Abington. “You put them in your pocket, and they bang around.’’

Two phones meant having two chargers and double the hassle of going through airport security. After three years, Peruzzi recently went back to just his BlackBerry.

Eventually, he said, everyone who carries two picks a favorite. “They have a starter and a reliever,’’ he said. And the reliever often stays in a drawer.

Michael B. Farrell can be reached at michael.farrell@globe.com.