Mobile Phones: The Crucial Platform

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2005-09-30 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Voice remains the killer app, and vendors are vying constantly for users' attention with community building, games and an ever-widening field of accessories.

SAN FRANCISCO—Despite all its new-fangled configurations, fancy ringtones, and creative games, the cell phone—and, by association, the greater wireless IT industry—is really about something much more old-fashioned: simply connecting people with other people, so they can do business, get to know each other, or enjoy entertainment together. Cell phones and all their trimmings are fast becoming the new wireless tie that binds us all together. Some observers go so far as to call cell phones "social computers." Others believe that cell phones—especially when they break up the quiet of polite company with their often-jarring ringtones—are mostly just plain rude. The idea of cell phone as social computer was an underlying theme at CTIAs (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) Wireless IT and Entertainment 2005 conference at the Moscone Center here.
"Well, its hard to call a cell phone a computer in the traditional sense of the word," Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg told Ziff Davis Internet. "Theyre just wireless telephones; theyre configurable, but they cant compute anything. As for their place in the social perspective, Id say theyre more of a catalyst to extend the reach of people to other people, in terms of location and context."
Scientifically, that much is certainly correct. Cell phone-connected communities of all kinds are springing up, catalyzing people in every imaginable kind of special interest. Many of those special interests were in evidence at the CTIA event. The common bond: A cell phone Not only are people joining fantasy sports leagues, dating services and online group-centered competitive games in record numbers, theyre also signing up for "wallpaper" and ringtone clubs, camera-phone photography groups, travel-discussion groups, soft-porn groups—you name it, theres probably a company or special-interest group that will fit your personal interests. The common bond: You guessed it—a cell phone.
FunMail Inc., based in Pleasanton, Calif., is an example. FunMail is a cell phone community that stages different kinds of simple contests. One is "Americas Best Mobile Picture," in which members snap camera-phone photos of pets, babies, "cute" girls and boys, cars, and other things. They then e-mail their best ones into FunMail, vote on which of their peers pictures they like best, and win prizes if theyre lucky. Small device keyboards are an obstacle to adoption of wireless data services. Click here to read more. For $2.99 per month, a subscriber can snap and send as many photos as he or she wants and submit them in for a chance to win prizes. They even get to see a graph showing how their picture ranks in the voting over time. "It a chance to become famous nationwide, or just sit back and be on the panel of deciding judges," a company data sheet said. "Were aiming at the 16-to-24 demographic," said FunMail executive Jim Campbell, "but were finding a lot of other people outside that range are participating. In October, well be doing a hottest girl and hottest guy photo contest. We expect a pretty high participation level." Subscribers then have the opportunity to interact with each other, if they choose. "They compare photos, talk about their experiences. A lot of guys are going to want to meet the hottest girl, and vice versa!" Campbell said. FunMail is certainly the community catalyst there. AG Interactive, a branch of 99-year-old American Greetings Corp., is currently delivering a lot more than birthday and anniversary e-cards through cell phones. Marketing executives assess consumers tolerance for mobile phone advertising. Click here to read more. A membership with AGI can bring customers such varied mobile phone entertainment as Def Jam Mobile Content (music, videos and poetry), streaming jazz music, and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, who appear on your cell phone screen to announce a phone call or text message. "Our products also include video ringtones, wallpapers, videos, eGreetings and evites—in addition to instant messaging content, like avatars, emoticons, winks, skins, and backgrounds," AGI Senior Vice President and General Manager Bryan Biniak told Ziff Davis Internet. Next Page: Its still all about communicating with friends and colleagues.



 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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