Bloomberg Anywhere Remote Login Bloomberg Terminal Demo Request


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Bloomberg Customers

The Push-To-Talk Power Play

Posted by: David Kiley on March 3, 2006


As I sat down to blog about push-to-talk cellphones, I went looking for an image I could upload. The above shot is what I found. What I was looking for, though, was an image of a guy, or woman, beating to death some push-to-talk addicted lummox. No such luck.

Push-to-talk, the phone service started by Nextel, and adopted by Cingular, Verizon, Virgin, T-Mobile, etc. is the service that allows the cell-phone user to use his or her phone like a walkie-talkie. This way, you see, everyone in the vicinity of the call not only gets to hear one side of the conversation, but both sides. I was in a Kinkos not long ago, using a cubicle as a work-station, and the young woman was in the cubicle next to me doing the push-to-talk thing. I had a Broderick Crawford-to-Judy-Holiday moment (from “Born Yesterday” for those who haven’t seen the classic movie)…”DO YA MIND?????????” I gave it to her.

Up to now, I just thought the push-to-talk thing was yet another symptom of callous public behavior, like: flicking a cigarette butt out a windoW; emptying a car ashtray on to the ground in a 7-11 parking lot; flossing your teeth in a movie theatre before the film starts. But a conversation I had with a wireless service company executive recently shed some new light on this. He says that many people who buy the service use it as a sense of power—at least that’s what the company’s research shows. He wouldn’t let me use his name, as he doesn’t want push-to-talk to take on the same public scorn as, say, driving Hummer H2s.

But this bloke says the dynamic of using push-to-talk is very much akin to wanting to drive a big SUV you don’t need, or sending a perfectly good bottle of wine back to show someone how important you are.

The psychology of push-to-talk…interesting stuff. My favorite push-to-talk moment came on a NJ Transit train. It was crammed as usual. I was standing in between cars, reading a tightly folded newspaper, shoulder to shoulder with the other commuters. The guy standing to one side of me was carrying on a pre-meeting meeting on his push-to-talk. I said…”Hey bud…give us a break, will ya?” “Sorry,” he said. “This is really important.” Oh?….so I starting reading my newspaper aloud into his face and phonecall.

The whole thing reminds me of some unpleasant experiences I have had in movie theatres where a gaggle of people won’t shut up.

You want to use push-to-talk in a car, by yourself, in your house, or even on the street where you have a buffer zone around you? That’s your business. But this exertion of “power” by inflicting it on other people is a desperate cry for help. These are consumers who need therapy, not to mention, in the words of Larry David…”a f****ing copy of Emily Post!!!!!!!” Or in the words of Broderick Crawford….”DO YA MIND?”

Reader Comments


November 25, 2008 8:24 PM

The whole thing reminds me of some unpleasant experiences I have had in movie theatres where a gaggle of people won’t shut up.

Post a comment



News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!