Business

What is your mobile phone's future?

Business Communications ROI

Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, ABC

Wednesday, August 22, 2012    

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"Our lives are being reshaped by the constant presence of our phones - and our evolving relationship with the idea of being connected to everyone and everything all the time." — Time Magazine

Over the last few years almost every adult has developed a close relationship with their mobile phone. It is very true, too, that over time mobile devices have gotten even more smarter than their owners, indeed a typical smart phone, "has more computing power than Apollo II when landed a man on the moon".

However, it is downright disturbing the levels of intimacy that some of us, who had erstwhile for years resisted buying a cellphone, have developed with these instruments. For some, our "cellie" has become closer than a brother, knowing all our surfing and texting secrets. We sleep with it a few inches from our heads, right at the bedside, and lovingly caress it when it does not ring or ping as frequently as we would wish.

According to a recent mobility poll conducted by Time, in co-operation with Qualcomm, one in four people check their phones every thirty minutes and one in five every ten minutes. One third of the respondents in the survey, which covered 5,000 persons of all age groups and income levels in eight countries, "admitted that being without their mobile for even short periods leaves them feeling anxious. It is a form of sustenance, that constant feed of news and notes and nonsense..." Three quarters of 25-29 year olds sleep with their phones. Do you recognise yourselves as one of these hopelessly plugged-ins?

Like it or not, mobile technology has radically changed our world, and Time Magazine's August 27 issue features the impact, the consequences, the opportunities, and what we can expect from mobile technology.

One way that it will impact on our day to day existence is through commerce and our money. Whether or not we want to believe it 'King Cash' is quickly losing his throne. In this the age of money laundering, slapping down a wad of sweaty cash on a counter to make a purchase has become quite gauche. It impresses no one anymore, and the vendor is likely to give you a very jaundiced and suspicious eye. In any event, to walk around with so much cash is tempting fate, the pickpocket or your neighbourhood cat burglar. Credit cards too will perhaps soon become unfashionable and go the way of the jherri curl, what with the threats of identity theft and scammers. So here comes the cell phone - to the rescue. According to Time, "In the not too distant future, the theory goes, we are going to pay for everything with our cellphones and it will be quicker, smarter and safer than using paper money or plastic."

Two ways in which people are already using their cellphones for purchases are via Google Wallet, which requires you to have a special chip in your phone, and Square's Pay. Using Google Wallet you pay by tapping your phone on a credit card reader and Square's Pay app communicates wirelessly with the phone or tablet used by the vendor to accept payment. Says, the article; "Under most bank's policies the consumer isn't liable for unauthorised charges."

Electioneering will never be the same anymore, thanks to the mobile phone. In the last US elections, four years ago, the use of FaceBook, Twitter and other cutting-edge social media tools was thought to be the magic bullet. We are just a few short months shy of the next election and the smart phone has upped the game. This August, US President Barack Obama's campaign team, released an electioneering app which has the following facilities: providing voter registration forms automatically tailored to the phone user's precinct; a voter donation program, 'Quick Donate' that allows people to give repeat donation by texting the dollar sum; Google map for canvassing for election workers and a providing them with a download of sample script for approaching voters, complete with the voter's first names.

The cellphone has also spawned a new and growing field called mobile activism as well. Mobile activism involves using cellphone technology, "to dispense information, raise money, and advocate for political and social change." We have all received the sometimes annoying texts urging us to give via this medium. It's going to get bigger. By the way, as we are on the subject of texting, did you know that an American teenager, Austin Wierschke, is the fastest texter in the US, having twice won the

LG National Texting Championship? In a month he says he probably sends about 10,000 texts and points out that, "For us teenagers, texting is the main way we talk to each other. That and Facebook."

It is believed that mobile phones have brought us closer to each other as we have been able to reconnect with distant friends and relatives, arrange dates, meet up and keep in constant touch using the various social media platforms that abound on line. This is a moot point, nevertheless, I definitely wait with bated breath as to how much more mobile technology will rock our world.

Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with RO Communications Jamaica, specialising in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: yvonne@rocommunications.com.

Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.

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