The barrier to entry
is low"> Heres another creative add-on: AG Interactive is developing an avatar (highly customizable drawing or photo of people, animals, cartoon characters, or inanimate objects that online users employ as identification in communicating with their peers) which will work in a contextual manner with e-mail or IM. Example: When a person is writing a happy or upbeat message, key words in the message will automatically change the expression on the avatar (if its a human or animal) to match the tone of the message. Likewise, if its a sad or downbeat message, the avatar will change to a sad expression. Anybody can get oneIn a 2004 article entitled "Our Cell Phones, Ourselves" in The New Atlantis, Christine Rosen wrote: "Some time between 2010 and 2020, everyone who wants and can afford a cell phone will have one." Some observers at CTIA said that timeline is way too conservative. "Actually, I think there is a phone out there right now for anybody who wants one," said CTIA attendee Molly Burris, of Louisville, Ky. "The prices keep coming down all the time. You dont need to have any credit history for some of the carriers, and the pay-as-you-go model works for a lot of people." Robert Rogers of Bellevue, Wash., said that "theyre amazingly cheap now. I mean, people spend more for phone accoutrements than they spend on their phone bills." Delivering e-mail to mobile phones is no simple matter. Click here to read more. Finally, there are those who would try to cut back the use of cell phones as much as possible because they are seen as a serious public safety issue. At the moment, 45 countries and New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia in the U.S. already have banned use of cell phones by drivers without some kind of hands-free device. Several other countries and U.S. states have instituted partial bans or are considering full bans. A story in the George Washington University student newspaper this week tells of a professor at the school who has had it with cell phones. If a cell phone goes off in political science Professor John Sides class, the caller, not the student, will be answering to the instructor for it. "If I can get to the phone before the person turns it off, I (answer it). Usually it rings, the class sucks in its breath, and the student usually turns it off in time," said Sides, who teaches a television and politics class. "Its been a few years since Ive had a conversation." Sides, who does not own a cell phone, said in the story that he usually gets a ring about once every two weeks. Mobile phones are not an "essential" piece of equipment, he said, but they have embedded themselves in all parts of society. "I do really think (having a phone go off) is rude in a variety of social circumstances, especially in a class," he said. "Its okay if we have technological developments, but we need to learn to use them in a polite manner." If he had been at the CTIA event this week, Sides would have elicited more than a few arguments about whether cell phones are "essential" or not to 21st-century living. This is already a huge industry that isnt slowing its growth anytime soon. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.
The main reason these communities and new companies are coalescing so quickly around the cell phone? They are affordable in the basic form, and not overly expensive when dressed up.