When the mobile phone was invented, not more than 40 years ago, it was just meant as a normal telephone which you could take with you. No color displays, no funky lights and most importantly no options like contactlist, alarm, texting or taking pictures. Being able to communicate wherever you are was, and still is, a revolution in itself.
But more and more features were added, and not without success. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how one was able to make good use of a mobile phone without a calendar, calculator, SMS, email or even a contactlist. It’s almost impossible to buy a new phone without camera, music-capabilities or internet functionalities. Try buying a phone without a game (or 5..) installed on it or without polyphonic/mp3 bells and whistles, it can’t be done!
All these functions and options have basically in common that they are information or supporting the transfer of information. Okay, so what? What’s the point to this telephone as information-station observation?
The era we live in is called the information age. In this age creating information, and transferring it, are the most important thing we do in our (working) lives, compared to previous era’s. In the industrial age we weren’t producing information but tangible things. I don’t want to go into all the differences between those era’s, I just want to draw the background of why mobile phones are in such a central place of our lives. Transferring information is in a telephones’ DNA, it is its reason of existence.
So to answer my own question, what is so important about mobile phones as transferring information machines? It means that every type of information, because when it is digital it is all the same anyway, can be transferred. Everything that is in its essence information will someday be transferred by your mobile phone, because that’s the thing you have on you wherever you are.
So let’s make a short list of what kinds of information already are being transferred or carried by your phone:
- Voice (created and transferred)
- (short) Texts (created and transferred)
- E-mail (transferred and created)
- Websites (transferred)
- Videos (created and transferred)
- (online) Radio (transferred)
- Music (carried but also transferred by Bluetooth for example)
- (GPS) Location (created and now also transferred to internet services)
- Calendar (created and transferred to for example Google Calendar)
And now a very short list of what is still to come and is worked on by numerous companies to get it working flawlessly.
- Key/authentication (When will the keys or passports be obsolete?)
- Money (it is a good time to sell wallet-factory stocks)
These two are not as easily implemented as other options because they are much more vulnerable, that’s why it takes longer. Rabobank already gave mobile payments a go, but not very successfully yet. I have never seen anyone using it, and I’ve only tried it once for the fun of it. I know South-Korea is miles ahead in this department, but my Korean lacks any identifiable Korean.
I’m really wondering what kinds of information I’ve left out in either one of the lists, but especially the last one of course.
Update 28-09-2009 I’ve wrote this post about a year ago. One of the most spectacular things I’ve seen on a mobile telephone yet is Augmented Reality: Layar. It’s no fantasy, it’s actually working. Can’t believe how fast mobile technology develops.