Mobile phones are the new ‘mass media’. Smartphones are all the rage. Last month brought news that Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system will be on smart phones by the end of the year, Dell is to introduce a smart phone using Google software, and Verizon Wireless (the biggest wireless operator in the US) will market a variety of Google Android-powered devices.
Mobile is where it’s at.
And of course the mobile phone is of utmost importance to remote workers…well those on the move at least.
So what’s the problem?
I’ve got a fairly decent mobile phone. It’s a Nokia 5800. It’s got quite a lot of apps, good music storage, fairly decent camera and video functionality and it’s easy to use. It’s got clear and easy to use connectivity too. The only problem is although my contract gives me lots of free texts and call time I have to pay to go online. I don’t have unlimited data and downloads. After a very scary bill a while back I’ve now limited accessing the internet from my phone to ‘only when absolutely necessary‘.
So there, I’ve admitted it, I’m not ‘always online’. When I’m not in an area with wireless I’m very much offline (though I can be rung up, but that’s so last season…)
Not only that I seem to be surrounded by people who are permanently online.
I often wonder if they have very full wallets or have just made very good gadget choices in the past and are clued up on the best deals. I can understand how some people who are always away from their desk might have unlimited Internet access as an essential but I tend to work from my home that has a PC with broadband connection in it and for me it boils down to priorities. There are many things that come further up the list than paying to be permanently connected.
That said I do sometimes feel like I’m sitting the wrong side of a mobile divide. The divide is no longer whether you have a phone or not because most people do (we’ve all heard it said that there are more mobiles than people in the UK, recent stats suggest that 89% of people in the UK own a mobile phone), I guess whether you have a smart phone or not matters, but the real issue is if you can afford to download the data.
Keep up if you can
At UKOLN we’ve recently released a number of briefing papers on mobile technologies. These originate from a session given by Sharon Steeples at the Institutional Web Management Workshop – The Mobile Web: keep up if you can! Sharon talked about the challenges of creating Web sites for the mobile Web. She mentioned at the start that one of the biggest issues is that wireless and 3G is still something only the minority have and data costs big time! That said at University most students tend to have better phones than the staff – in the future I’ll be able to have my children’s cast offs!
Of course data cost will go down. (Last week the EU roaming cap law was found to be valid.) It was only last year that Dr Nigel Bannister, a space scientist from Leicester University, did the calculations to show how costly mobile phones can be. It was all part of efforts to defend the money spent on space programmes. Dr Bannister explained that:
“The bottom line is texting is at least four times more expensive than transmitting data from the Hubble space telescope – and is likely to be substantially more than that.“
So till my contract ends and downloading data gets cheaper I’ll stay on the cheap and cheerful side of the mobile divide.
Anyone else willing to admit they’re stuck in the same place?