Wednesday, August 02, 2006

HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION DEPT:
Wait...You Mean People Still Use Mobile Phones to, Like, Talk and Stuff?

...Heralded as the next big technological conversion, phones that download music and play videos aren't as popular as some in the industry had hoped they would be at this point. And that is forcing some wireless companies to rethink their strategies...

...A study released Monday from Forrester Research shows only 6 percent of mobile phone subscribers download or stream music files once a week while only 3 percent of customers do the same with video services. That compares to 38 percent of customers who say they send a text or picture message....




I've never been a fan of the bells and whistles often included with mobile phones. In fact, I'm usually downright critical of all the excess features, shits-and-giggles toys, and other junk service providers and manufacturers pitch to customers.

With all the potential for practical, responsible usage of information and communication technologies (ICT), does anyone really need a phone that does everything but laundry and windows?

Ring tones? I keep my phone on vibrate. Why the hell would anyone pay money for ditty to let them know their parents are calling, anyway?

Texting? If I want to talk to you, I'm going to call, thank you very much. The sound and tone of the human voice, of spoken language, carries so much more information than a few quick abbreviations crawling across a tiny screen.

Personal organizers? Do I look like the kind of guy who uses an organizer? I don't even like the scheduler I'm forced to use at work.

Apparently, I may not be the only one who doesn't buy into the whole ""Gee-whiz-that's-neat" model of ICT adoption.

According to the Forrester study, little more than a third of of mobile customers use text/picture messaging features, though the mobile service providers and device manufacturers push that supposedly "basic" feature.

The supposed revolution of music/video-enabled phones has yet to materialize as well. Now, companies like Verizon are scrambling to repackage their rather large investments into experimental mobile services - investments that have yet to become a garaunteed cash cow.

So who's buying into these services, anyway? Who are companies like Verizon, Cingular, and Sprint trying to reach in their marketing?

A few months ago, someone emailed me a link to a blog post reporting the results of an informal web survey of 361 students between the ages of 15-22. According to the author, an obscene percentage of respondents (93%) consider their mobile phones such an integral part of their exsistence that they sleep with the damned things.

Of course, one cannot necessarily take everything one reads on the web seriously, but I think this may offer at least a peek into the target demographic the phone companies are trying to attract.

One final thought, from a recent feature in a British newspaper:

...According to Childalert, a company providing information, advice, products and services relating to child safety, nine out 10 children in the UK own a mobile phone and the benefits of immediate communication have put the minds of millions of parents at ease.

But the charity also warns parents there is a downside to mobile phone ownership, with handsets potentially swallowing pocket-money, and even potentially placing a child's health at risk.

One concerned father contacted the charity after discovering his daughter was spending her entire £20 weekly allowance plus all her school dinner money on text messaging friends, saying: "She hasn't had a meal in school for the past three months and worst of all, considers no other activity or hobby worthy of her pocket money...."


6 comments:

Angel, librarian and educator said...

No, you are not the only one. I am not a fan of phones that do everything except cook and clean, and I am sure someone will come up with that down the road. Personally, all I want is a phone that you use to, oh, I don't know, make phone calls? I have a computer to get the video, the images, etc. My music could go on an I-Pod if I wanted. Not that I call that many people anyways. However, an interesting observation is that (seemingly) among the L2 worshippers, having phones that do all that and more is seen as the wave, as the thing to do, as yet another thing to open libraries to. As for the ringtones, that could be a whole other post. Best, and keep on blogging.

kT said...

Hmm. I'd buy a phone that would clean for me. For right now, as high-tech as I've gotten is a cordless ground line.

Somehow, I survived without constant contact with my parents.

Leigh said...

I use my cell to talk and txt. I do like getting little msg's here and there... just to know someone was thinking of me to send a little note is super sweet.

The other stuff, like cameras, and mp3's... geez.. what would I do with my digicam and ipod? ;)

cooper said...

The demographics seem about right.
Most of my friend text message constantly at least while at school. One friend hit up somethinglike 2000, text messages a month.
I have never been a phone fanatic of any kind not ever to talk. I misplace it all the time.
I have friends that replace their phone every six months. I see my younger cousins using it way more than people my age do.

I do tm people though but just funny little nonsense type stuff for fun... things like " this asshole TA won't shut the fuck up".

shayna said...

I'm glad I am not the only one who feels that way... I use my cell to talk on... only when needed... texting to me is silly... and paying for a ring tone is even more silly than texting... maybe we think this way because we are about to be 30 in a year/ give or take? :)

SeizeTheNite said...

They sleep with their cell phones?
I've always prefered to share my bed with something with a pulse. :)
(although I guess the vibrate function could come in handy)

I couldn't agree with you more on the texting...
Actual human voices are so nice and with self-checkouts and automated phonelines, you hardly get to hear them anymore.