FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Internet + Cell Phone = ???

The sheer rate of mobile phone expansion has taken aback even the most visionary observer. Now, Gartner is predicting that by 2009, 1 billion new cell phones will be sold per year -- meaning that most anyone in the world capable of owning a cell phone can have one.

A USA Today article tries to grasp the significance of ubiquitous, powerful cell phones, especially when coupled with the Internet:

No sane person at the time ever thought these things would become the most significant electronic consumer device in history. But that's exactly what is happening.

Bigger than television. Bigger than the PC. Bigger than the telephone.

The cell phone's impact will be so huge because — unlike those previous technologies — it's so widespread. People in developing countries who a decade ago owned nothing more complicated than a water pump now have cell phones.

At the other extreme, middle-class teenagers in the USA now carry in their pockets a networked computing and communicating device more powerful than the mainframes that might've run a good-size company when their parents were the same age...

Deep social change can happen because cell phones are now in our pockets all the time. "We're evolving from a world where the PC was the communications device to one where the cell phone or PDA is the center of gravity," says Kim Polese, CEO of open-source software company SpikeSource. These gadgets will alter habits even more as they become the way people listen to music, get information, blog and pay for purchases at stores [Case in point: see the previous post on how Saudi youth use their mobile devices]...

Neville Street, CEO of text-messaging company Mobile 365, puts it this way: How many inventions in history have literally become part of your person — something you always have with you?

Your watch. Your credit card. Your cell phone. That's pretty much it, unless you count tooth fillings...

New businesses will pop up, new models for making money, new ways to be entertained, new definitions of privacy. The Internet was a grand creation. The Internet plus cell phones will be magnificent.

Sources: USA Today, EMERGIC.org