The evolution of the common cellular phone

Jessica Seftel

The iPhone. The BlackBerry. The Envy. The White Chocolate. Does anybody remember the days when cell phones didn’t need names and nicknames? Twenty-five years after the first commercial cell phone, it seems like society is being overwhelmed with a hot new phone every week, each with even more features than the one before. The big question is do we really need a phone that doubles as a computer? Kelly Yau, a sales manager in New York stated that “phones nowadays are loaded with so many unnecessary features. All some features do is frustrate people and drain the battery out.”

It’s a complaint that we hear on a daily basis from friends and passersby. A recent Zogby poll commissioned by MSN found that the majority of cell phone users have yet to make sense of and use many of the new features being added to today’s cell phones. Nearly half said all they want is a reliable phone.

On the other hand, long-standing features seem to have won over our hearts. The ability to store contacts is a feature used by 84 percent of poll respondents. Cell phones with built-in video and still cameras outsold regular cell phones for the first time in 2007.

Even so, the cell phone industry is investing on the belief that their customers will learn to love the mobile Internet. This in particular is an area where the cell phone industry sees a huge opportunity for growth.

There is evidence that the youth market is embracing these new, feature-rich cell phones. The same poll showed that younger cell phone users, aged 18-34, were more likely to check e-mail on their phones than elder users. A recent study of teenage users conducted on behalf of the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry showed that half of teens view their cell phone as a new form of entertainment.

Society as a whole has embraced this new dependency on cell phones. With the constant display of savvy new features, it is becoming difficult for people to expect their cell phone to NOT be similar to their computer at home.

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