Cell Phones: Friends or Foes?

We love our mobiles. Can’t live without them. But for most people, the relationship with their phone is becoming increasingly phobic. The handsets never seem to behave consistently. Programming them is never easy or intuitive and most of us haven’t a clue what most of the buttons on the handset control. If the features of your mobile phone have you spooked, you’re not alone.

A 2005 A.T. Kearney/University of Cambridge study found that available multimedia features in handsets are being drastically under-utilized. For example, only 12 percent of multimedia phone owners actually download or send photos. Mobile phones are becoming more and more complex as usability expands to encompass more areas of life. With a mobile phone, you can talk, text, e-mail, photograph, notify, download and customize — and those are just the basics.

Full Article from the Arab News

In just a few years cell phones have evolved from their parental lineage, the cordless phone, to a fairly complex creature. After flings with the PDA, the camera, the camcorder, the mp3 player and the handheld video game, the original cell phones’ teenage children are wild and crazy offspring with which many of us can barely identify.

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My mom still has a phone she purchased 4 years ago, and she just learned how to text message. She often turns her phone off because it is “wasting batteries.” I have heard stories of other phone users that cannot check their messages, or get startled and confused whenever it rings in public. For others of us, our cell phones are almost part of our bodies, simply extensions of our own capabilities that we constantly tap and thumb and jabber away on.

It is important to step back a little, and look at what cell phones are becoming. With new features and capabilities coming out almost annually, are we evolving fast enough to keep with them? Aside from young people and corporate Blackberry-using types, the answer is probably no. Where does that leave the rest of us? What role do cell phones play in the rest of our lives? Are cell phones better friends to us in their classical sense…as phones? Or are they destined to be much more to us…will they become our personal robots, sticking by our sides throughout our days and helping with us with every imaginable task?

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The verdict is not yet out, the answer will probably be both. Cell phone companies will continue to push the envelope on what cell phones can do, but they will also pay attention to who their consumers are and what they need. I anticipate a rennaissance of classical cell phones as our population ages. We need a big chunky cell phone with large flashing buttons that people can actually see and hold, and that remind them of an actual phone. Sure, the Sidekick and the Razr are cool, but are they really the whole picture of where cell phones are going?

What role do cell phones play in your life, and how do you think people should be interacting with cell phones?

Check out this Bloggers Blurt post for another great cell phone commentary about innapropriate portable technology etiquette.