cell phones

Signal vs. Noise has an interesting post on the state of cell phones. I disagree with one statement:

Today’s phones are failures — mainly software/interface failures.

I think today’s cell phones are mostly that – phones. All the other features – with the exception perhaps of sms/text messaging – are mostly a failure. But the problem is not mainly the interface or the software. The problem is the total control of the cell phone carriers. The carriers only think in the old pay-by-the-unit model. The don’t think out of the box. Their services are overpriced and deliberately crippled. Ever tried doing data on a cell phone? It sucks. You get minimal bandwidth (since when is 300kbps broadband?!) that is advertised as ‘all you can eat’. However, if you try to really use it, chances are you’ll get a letter from your cell phone company stating that you use too much bandwidth, and that you will be cut off. And don’t try to use it for *real* work – ssh and the like are most likely blocked. In the mind of the cellphone carriers, using the internet equals browsing the web and if you’re lucky, doing e-mail. Of course it also includes the use of their totally superfluous ‘portal’ where you can do all sorts of amazing things: download a new ring tone for your cell phone. Download a new background image. ‘Distinguish’ yourself. How fantastic. Obviously you will have to pay for each and every thing you do.

Things are changing. Look for wifi-enabled devices like the Nokia 770. Combine that with city-wide wifi networks and VOIP. We’ll break out of the carrier-controls-all mold soon. I can’t wait!

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