Cell phone identity crisis


Cell phone identity crisis

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According to a company called World Wide Worx, the majority of cellphone owners aren’t terribly interested in the many fancy features on their cellphones. Whether you can rely on research from a company who can’t even spell their own name correctly (although I suppose two out of three counts as a pass) I’m not sure, but I have recently done my own empirical study and come up with much the same result. An empirical study in my book means asking people in the pub the same question and sifting the results. This was an empirical study of seven people and that’s because I had to go home and got bored with asking people the same question.

What World Wide Worx and I have discovered is that all that fancy stuff you get with your phone is superfluous. What people want first and foremost is a phone that doesn’t keep dropping calls and costs a lot less to use. Unfortunately we can’t have that in South Africa so what the mobile phone providers do is give us phones with all sorts of things we can play with while we are trying to reconnect to whoever it is we were trying to phone. What we don’t want are radios and MP3 players on our phones because incoming calls interrupt the music. Besides, I don’t ask my iPod nano to pretend it’s a phone so why must my phone pretend it’s an iPod? And that digital camera feature? What’s the point when most of us already own digital cameras that do the job rather better than a cell phone?

Do I want to surf the net on a gadget with print the size of the Book of Common Prayer? At my age I can barely make out the letters on the keys that can get me onto the internet let alone read what is on the screen. So no thank you to that one. And Sat Nav on a cellphone may be very impressive but the same argument applies.

There I will be, driving through one of the many renamed streets in Durban, trying to find my way to the road to Ballito and peering at a screen the size of a matchbox. And obviously I will be holding the cellphone in my hand when a cop pulls me over for a fine. And I won’t even have been using my cellphone to chat.

So apart from messaging, making calls, and the occasional photo we really don’t want all the other stuff they give us. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t want extra features on our phones….we just don’t want these ones.

A police road block warning would be a good feature to have as would a bleep warning of a radar trap. A feature letting us know if the hitchhiker at the side of the road is a serial killer would be good. As would a feature which could let guys know if the hot looking girl at the nightclub is likely to make breakfast next morning. And vice versa.

A polygraph feature would be invaluable for anyone talking to a politician or an estate agent but best of all would be a cellphone feature which could travel forward in time and tell you what was going to win Saturday’s 3.30 at Turffontein. But only if it’s unique to your phone obviously.

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