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Friday, June 06, 2008

Cell Phones: Not Just for Calling Anymore

In America, the best technology rarely wins the consumer heart. Our homes and offices are filled with inferior technology that does one thing really well: it works. 

That's not necessarily the case in Japan, where manufactures and retailers are struggling with a population that increasingly wants the latest -- and most complex -- cell phone for the very same reason that Americans have flocked to the iPhone: personal brand identity.

Neat-looking gadgets are also a core aspect of one's identity. Daiji Hirata, chief financial officer of News2u Corporation and creator of Japan's first wireless LAN, admits to changing handsets more often than is probably necessary. 

The prevailing thought is that Americans are looking for easy-to-use handsets, but Nokia is betting that we're more like Japanese consumers. The Swedish company is developing a series of all-in-one handsets that will be all-purpose devices that are, according to the San Jose Mercury News, more Swiss army knife than cell phone.

The complexities of cell phones, though, could also lead to as-yet-determined applications. Scientists secretly used GPS chips in phones to track 100,000 people, building a comprehensive map about their activities.

Clearly we'd rather not be tracked -- particularly anonymously -- but the idea that emerging handsets could offer location-based services is intriguing (for instance, I get my Borders coupons sent to my phone; however to use them I have to save the text messages. I'd rather get them when I'm within a 1/4 mile from a Borders' store.)

By Brad at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

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