Interviews with Howard Rheingold and Mimi Ito
March 30th, 2006

Italy-based Jumper zine interviews me and Mimi Ito about the significance of keitai — mobile phones:

Keep in mind that the original operators who enabled SMS, the killer app for teens and mobile phones, had NO IDEA that it would either be popular with youth or would be a revenue generator. The engineers build the SMS specification into the GSM standard, When young people got their hands on a medium that enabled them — for the first time! — to communicate directly with their peers without parents or teachers overhearing, they started using it. The ability to send a few words to a friend, instead of initiating a phone call, became both economically and socially attractive to others. But keep in mind as well that the whole 3G model was created by the same operators who formerly had no clue that people would use SMS for social communication. The PC, the Internet, SMS, and DoCoMo were all successful because the users, not the manufacturer or operator, invented uses for the technology. Handset manufacturers have been slow to catch on, as well — isn’t it weird that the first millions of cameraphones were sold without a single-click mechanism for sending pictures to your online gallery? You can be sure that the most important applications of the next generation of mobile culture will be those that are adopted or appropriated by kids on the streets of Shanghai or Milan or Rio, not those that are invented through focus groups in skyscrapers.


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