Mobiles ‘part of social fabric’
February 28th, 2005
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Mobile phones are the essential accessory most of us never leave home without. Stephen Cole for the BBC assesses the real role they play in our lives, and the problems users face.

“The relationship with mobiles is changing all the time, according to researcher Michael Hulme. “If we go back five years, it used to be fairly functional.

“Today we’re moving towards a real time of dependency, where if we lose our mobile we begin to feel cut off from our network of friends, cut off from our contacts, and absolutely disabled.

“The other thing is that the mobile is very much a device of control . We are using it to control our relationships with others , how others contact us, and increasingly to control information .

Escape

Michael Hulme says part of the reason why the mobile is so successful is that it takes us away from where we are . It reconnects us with another space, be that a friend that we want to talk to, or actually the opportunity to reconnect with a games space that takes us out of where we are.

“Hence the reason that in Asia you see people in queues playing games. “They don’t want to be in the queue, they want to be somewhere else – and playing a game is a jolly good place to be.”

Reaching out

Mobile gaming is, of course, always likely to appeal to some more than others. Teenagers, in particular under 15s, are most likely to experiment with new services.

“But increasingly I think we are going to see this group looking at the devices and means to reach out to the world and pull the world towards them and to re-order and re-structure it actually on the phone.”

Problems

But do today’s mobile services actually work? A clue to that question is that there is now a big business in solving people’s mobile phone problems.

David Ffoulkes-Jones runs Wireless Data Services (WDS), a company that supplies technical support for most of the major mobile operators.

He feels major companies have not always thought through the services they are offering, but they are now getting much more involved in servicing and support of the end user.”


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