2007, The Year of the Cell Phone

by Michael Hart on January 23, 2007

A Review of the new LG eNV and Apple iPhone, and more.

You think you’ve seen cell phones?
Not the kind that you’ll be seeing sooner than you think!

2007 will see the start of cell phones that do everything we can imagine, and perhaps more than many of us imagine.

Many of you have heard me talk about convergence of function away from dedicated devices for years, if not decades, since the behemoth Wang word processors that couldn’t compete well against WordStar, WordPerfect, etc.

“The Future Is Now”

You’ll see a bigger change in cell phones now than ever, and it will continue for the next two or three years.

Wanna bet?

Here are dozen or so obvious functions:

  • Telephone
  • Television
  • Jukebox
  • Video Jukebox
  • Internet Access
  • Podcasting
  • Web Surfing
  • Instant Messaging
  • Digital Sound Recording
  • Digital Camera
  • Digital Movie Camera
  • GPS and Travel Maps
  • Large Phone Books
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Etc., Etc., Etc.

Suppose you are sending an email and you type a word wrong– the phone will correct your typing.

Suppose you are travelling…tells you to turn left here.

Maybe too much like Mother-in-Law for some, but useful to an entire world of billions of people who will be communicating ever faster and faster.

The phone will even be able to tell you that your brand of a particular commodity is on sale for so many dollars at these stores you are passing on the right.

You can download the television show you missed last night.

You can even download the producers’ commentary on the show.

Of course, if you are in the next generation, this is not it at all, you’ll be instant messaging a whole crowd of people, and they’ll all know what is happening before any of the old line adults ever get home to watch the dreary old newscasts, a la Katie Cronkite, no matter how many millions they get.

The new generation will move through entire trends in one of the adults’ days…videos that were viral in the AM are no longer even relevant in the PM, and that’s just counting the 3 hours right before and after lunchtime.

Perhaps the scariest thing, at least for the cell phone Inc. types in the boardroom is the combining of WiFi and cell.

A Few Notes On The Latest Cell Phones

If you have only seen Verizon’s ads for the LG eNV on TV the real thing is likely to be a disappointment simply because a technologist team along the line simply forgot maximizing an obvious factor…the internal screen size, duh!

The letters on the eNV screen are so small that you will eNV the nearsighted…even the designers obviously knew this — each function gets larger when you arrow over it, so you will actually be able to read the tiny little characters.

I took my reading glasses when I went to see the eNV and I am still the eNV of those who didn’t, even though I could barely read the unenlarged print.

Yes, the GameBoy generation won’t have much trouble, but this extra internal screen isn’t really all that much bigger sadly to say…I don’t think it takes up even half of the half of the space on the upper clamshell.

However, Steve Jobs seems to have pulled yet one more rabbit, or perhaps more than one, out of his fabled had a la iPhone.

First, this gizmo is 80% screen, unlike the internal screen a person barely sees on the eNV.

About 10 square inches of screen.

Of course, it doesn’t look like a traditional cell phone, and the eNV, while larger than most cell phones you see today, is still recognizably a cell phone.

The iPhone is much more.

Besides a big chuck out of all the functions listed above, it is large enough to make a decent eBook reader, and to house a lot of RAM, though this does not seem to be the case, and I’m going to talk a lot more about RAM later, and the OS choices, which are apparently XP and OS X.

The Size Factor

While the eNV probably has about twice the volume of a normal cell phone, the iPhone is truly a hand sized device at:

2.4 inches wide, by 4.5 inches high, and a half inch thick.

However, this will still fit in the average pocket very well.

Jobs says he want to sell 10 million iPhones in the next year or two, which won’t be more than 1% of all cell phones in one calendar year. If the iPhone sells at all well, I think this figure of Steve’s is going to look a little low.

The cost is not terribly low:
$499 for the 4 meg version, and $599 for 8 meg, though I will anticipate that outboard RAMsticks will be a feature shortly.

Cover Art Is Back

For those iPod users who lamented the loss of cover art, this new iPhone has a feature that allows you to flip through your collection just as if you were flipping through stacks of CDs or even, heaven forbid, vinyl, and pick by the covers.

Camera Functions

A 2 megapixel camera will outperform many dedicated cameras a world has gotten used to, not to mention onboard software for working on your pictures.

Internet and Web Access

Email, Google, Yahoo, even Google Maps, it’s all there.

Saving the Best, or Worst, for Last!!!

It would appear that the iPhone will do BOTH cell and WiFi!!!

This is what the cell phone industry has been dreading for as long as WiFi has been around.

What happens to all those cell minutes they bill for when the phone can switch to WiFi and thus Internet telephone???

Will this signal the beginning of a new era of competition by cell phone companies with WiFi?

Will U.S. cell phone minutes finally come into line with most of the rest of the world were calls are 2.x cents a minute?

Michael S. Hart
Project Gutenberg

Blog at http://hart.pglaf.org

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