The Cell Phone

Cell phones have been an under-appreciated topic in our class. I remember back in the Zack Morris days of cell phones; actual land phones you had to carry around. Now-a-days some phones are to small to operate with big hands. With the advent of the iPhone upon us, I am betting that sooner or later our cell phones will be the center of our mobile lives. (The computer home theater will be the center of our home media experience)

Right now, cell phones can connect us to anyone anytime we have a signal. But, the newer phones pack a lot more punch than that. Phones like the Treo, blackberry, and iPhone are basically mobile computers. They play mp3s, have internet capabilities, and text messaging. You put the internet and text messaging together and you get ideas like this. I have heard plans in Japan or China to have credit cards built into cell phones, along with some sort of basic personal information that store scanners can read to better help you find things you might like. I might be making that up, but I remember reading it somewhere.

All in all, cell phones are another part of our lives that we take for granted, but probably couldn't live without anymore.

Don't get me started on cell phones. The hardware and software behind cells phones is becoming more and more impressive, but all I want to do is make a flippin' phone call. Phones get better, but networks don't. My roomate (T-mobile) doesn't get service in our dorm room and my phone (Verizon) doesn't get service at my house. In fact, I was once with a friend at LAX who couldn't get service (Sprint), despite being at the 5th busiest airport in the world. Simply absurd. I would be delighted to pay $500-$600 for a phone that has NO fancy features, no web capabilities, and God knows no phone, if it just makes clear, reliable, phone calls from anywhere. But there's no way I'm spending the same amount for an amazing iPhone with the unacceptable reception that we have today. The industry simply has the wrong priorities.

When we discuss media studies, we obsess over things like artificial intelligence, but if we just listen to consumers, we hear them shouting "Sure, AI sounds cool, but can't we just make my computer crash less?!?" Similarly, I'm shouting at the cell phone industry, "can't we just make a network that makes phone calls?"

I was wondering why no one mentioned cell phones today in class when we were discussing the failure of video phones. I watched a Friends episode (online) the other day-- Monica's millionaire boyfriend is usually seen doing business in a video phone conference. It was funny to see the show anticipating the "up and coming trend" of adding a live visual to telephone conversations.

I believe that video phone failed mostly because of the accessibility of cellular phones. They're portable, convenient, chordless, handheld, etc. Our generation is dependent on multi-tasking; thus when video phones took away your sense of privacy while demanding your undivided attention in a telephone conversation they were bound for failure. The whole concept of a home telephone number is even dissolving. One of my friends' family doesn't even have a home phone number any more!

This is a good article on some reasons why our cell phone networks are so bad... It's from 2001 (I read it over the break though, I guess we had an old issue lying around) but it seems like it's still pretty accurate. It's pretty annoying that so little progress has been made in the US in improving our wireless networks.

i've heard about the credit card thing too, and I think it's pretty ridiculous/a bad idea on the basis that having all your credit card information on your cell phone is not only way more information than a cell phone needs, but really unsafe if you lose your phone. With normal credit cards, if you lose it, it's just a piece of plastic that can be cancelled a lot easier than if someone is making fraudulent charges on your phone.

I also know what you mean about the mp3's on phones...when i was buying my phone, they had a razr with itunes that...admittedly i was tempted to buy..but reconsidered when the price was twice that of the regular version, and also when taking into account the fact that having itunes on your phone significantly sucks out the battery.

essentially....we don't need to have EVERYTHING built into our cell phones! but companies will try anyway. has come up with a way to link all of fyour phone numbers to one number. People just call that number and it makes all of your phones ring. Personally, since I only have a cell phone, this seems slightly overkill. I don't need my home and cellphone ringing every time someone calls, but it does bring all messages to one convenient place. You can read more about its features and use at this article from the NYT.