Trampled by Phones
I have to admit it: I have wanted the new Apple iPhone since it came out! The product looks cool, fun, and has lots of neat toys. Apparently, I’m not the only one who wanted one or who has been caught up in the buzz. Tens of thousands of people were expected to get in line when the first generation of iPhones came out, and the bets were down. A gambling website put the odds at 20/1 that someone would be trampled in an effort to grab one of these new devices.

The release of the iPhone, Blackberry, and a host of others merely captures and brings together what the market has demanded for some time: a phone that acts just like a computer, works like an iPod, and is as portable. But really, should we be surprised that Apple brought together what every other software and computer company has been either eyeing or working on for years? Cell phones will function just like your PC at work or home.

And the market is huge! Consider the cell phone market:

  • The total number of mobile phone subscribers in the world is estimated at 2.7 billion.
  • At the end of 2005, the total number of cell phone users in the United States was 207.9 million, and growing at 14% a year.
  • Over 90 million new subscribers in the U.S. are expected in the next 4 years.

The U.S. cell phone market was considered fully saturated this year. People using their cell phones will find them easier to use and begin to expect the cellular networks to support the functions that they see in their PC. Phones will mimic computers. Why? Because for companies like Apple, Microsoft, and a host of others, the cell phone market represents an opportunity. There is an enormous demand for the product they are going to supply.

Think about what cell phones can already do. The array of options is staggering. You can: take and receive a picture, capture and/or view videos (iPods and MP3 players do this as well), text message, access the internet, watch TV, download a ring tone, listen to music, manage your calendar, view maps, get audio directions, receive and send e-mails. Apple has been proud to announce that their iPhone has a special YouTube player that will allow you to browse and upload videos whenever you want, wherever you are!
Great! Or not so great? Where do these photos and videos taken on one’s phone end up? The internet and now your phone. When Saddam Hussein was executed, it was a cell phone that took the video of that event. How long did it take after he was hung to hit and then the news outlets…less than 45 minutes! Camera/video phones have caused such controversy that they are being banned from certain locations because:

  • In some classrooms, people have taken photos of tests, which were then e-mailed
  • At some gyms, day cares, public swimming pools, and malls, candid shots have been taken and circulated for more than questionable purposes
  • Courts have banned them to keep proceedings private
  • Ironically, Apple banned camera phones at their shareholders’ meeting for privacy reasons

Phones are even being used to create what is called a Moblog, a combination of the word mobile and blog. Moblogs are now a way that a user can post pictures and videos and allow others to view life through their eyes as they go about doing whatever they are doing. In time, it will be another MySpace environment, but on phones. In fact, it’s already here.

Telsus Canada, a wireless company was offering pornographic downloads via phone. That’s old news because the market was already there. Forecasters estimate the mobile pornography market will reach 2.3 billion dollars worldwide by 2010, next year. Are we surprised?

We are now in a generation where just putting a computer in the family room to protect what your children access will not nearly be enough. So shouldn’t parents, who are concerned about what is on the internet, also be prepared to think: what is my child doing on his cell phone? How many cell phones do you have in your household? 1, 2, 3, 4, or more?

Recently, I was at the dentist where I was listening to several ladies talk about how technology was over their heads. One made the comment that even her daughter’s cell phone was getting too complicated. After listening for awhile, I asked if she knew that objectionable content could be viewed on a phone. Her response was that ironically enough, the other day she was standing next to her daughter when a message came in with a pornographic picture. When she asked her daughter about it, the response was that it happens from time to time, and her mother should not worry.

You cannot afford to let technology be over your head or let it happen from time to time. With the latest trends in cell phones combining voice, video, and data, this blending of information has become entertainment. Cell phones are center-stage in the evolving trend of mobile “infotainment.

So let’s be clear about it – the latest cell phones are not just used for talking anymore. Don’t get trampled by what your children are doing on their cell phones!

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