The Kurdish Globe
Strolling through Ashti markets in Erbil you are hit with over a hundred cell phone shops, distributers and agents of cell phone companies all in one place. In front of each shop on tables, people carry out the business of second hand phones, from the simplest model to the latest brand of smart phones.
Youngsters and teenagers have heated up the business of cell phones not as first or even second time buyers, but because they are now regularly replacing their old handsets with newer versions.
"I have come to here to buy a Galaxy 3 smart phone. I have a HTC which I bought 20 days ago but I don't like it any more," said Kardo Sarbast, 18, while staring at smart phones through a shop window.
Sarbast was encouraged by his mate, Ahmad Jabbar, who himself has a Samsung Galaxy 3, and wants Sarbast to have the same brand.
In most progressive countries, people ditch their old handset for a brand new state-of-the-art phone as long as their 2-year contract ends, but in Kurdistan, people, especially youngsters are tending to change their phones much more often.
In the past Kurdistan was among one of the places where consumers used their cell phones the longest, people would not change their phones unless the handsets were completely broken. However today with the increasing accessibility to all kinds of cell phone devices and accessories in the local market, consumer habits are rapidly changing.
"I always want to have the newest brand available. Sometimes I search online for the newest sort that hasn't even come to my region yet," said Ragaz Jawhar, a 16-year old boy who has changed his phone seven times in the past two years. His first handset was the Nokia N73 brand which was the best phone available on the market at that time.
Those benefitting most from this new trend are the people who buy and sell second hand phones. They are able to make large profits on phones which have only been used for a few hours by buying for a cheap price and selling on for much more.
Idrees Loqman is a 33-year old man who has a table on which he exposes second hand phones. Loqman asks whoever who has a phone in his hand when passing by, if he wants to sell his phone or replace it with another one.
"This is how we make money here. I know some people who spend over $ 500 for a phone then sell it a few days later for half the price. I always try to recognize those faces so that they sell their phones to me," explained Loqman
Akam Othman, general manager of Nazo Company for phone trading, claims that high school and college students, who constantly change handsets, constitute the majority of purchasers.
Othman believes that those who change their phones frequently are psychologically sick. "The other day, a boy bought a cell phone from me and two days later he came back to sell the phone in order to buy another one. I asked him why he was doing this and he told me that he was addicted to this sickness and it's hard to quit the habit," ndivulged Othman.
Smartphones are the most popular selling product in Erbil. They are recognized with numerous applications and entertaining programs.
Sardar Hamad, salesman and accountant at the Nazo Company said the consumers of smartphones are mostly those who use the phones for games; however there are some others who use the applications for business.
"Cell phones are now like mini computers, with game consoles, High definition still and video cameras, mailing systems, text messengers, carriers of entertainment and business data," said Hamad.
Cell phones have gradually become an essential part of life, not only in Kurdistan but in many countries and smart phones are beginning to become equally indispensable in the eyes of many. With ceaseless advances in technology, new and elaborate features being constantly added along with assorted multimedia cachets, the popularity of these gadgets will only ascend higher. However, the financial and psychological risks that this poses on young people as consumerism spirals out of control, begs the question of how beneficial the smart phone actually is to society. Although communication is made easier is this at the detriment to mental health.