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Device Formerly Known as the Cell Phone

It's not really shocking news that cell phone use has shot up in recent years. According to info we presented in the 2007 World Almanac (page 363, if you're following along at home), worldwide cell phone subscriptions rose from about 11 million in 1990 to more than 1.7 billion in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available. However, cell phone subscriptions include a lot more than just voice calling these days. That's because the phones themselves have changed so much. Most new mobile phones function as a combination personal organizer, communication device, iPod, and in some places, an electronic wallet carrying users’ credit cards. In a few years, we might have to replace "cell phone" with a completely different term in The World Almanac.

This is the part of the subject of a piece in the Technological Quarterly section of this week’s Economist. As mobile devices’ uses expand, there will be lots of new problems and concerns with security and privacy (in addition to a possible name change for the actual devices).

A little aside from the main point, one particular factoid I found fascinating in the article is the following:

Studies show that people read around 10 megabytes (MB) worth of material a day; hear 400MB a day, and see 1 MB of information every second.

It feels weird to have my daily media intake quantified like that.

The Phone of the Future (The Economist, Nov. 30 2006)


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