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Color, sound, flash—today’s web experience is experientially active. Surfing the Internet is a multisensory experience that puts the user in the midst of information and entertainment. The one catch is that you need a fast connection alongside the computer hardware. To download PDF a file while watching a music video that you are simultaneously twittering about certainly is beyond the reach of a cell phone. And while the glitz and sound of cutting edge technology is a lure, it is time to consider what we can achieve globally if we step back our technological pace.

Consider this, “[w]orldwide, there are more than 2.4 billion cellphone users, with more than 1,000 new customers added every minute [and] 59 percent of these 2.4 billion people live in developing countries, making cellphones the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users there than in the developed world.”

Cell phones are gaining access where roads and telephone lines do not and cannot. By getting around a dearth of infrastructure and war ravaged dangers, cell phones are bringing the poorest people in the world into the information age. The draw of cheap person to person texting has even caused people to grapple with illiteracy and marginally overcome it for the sake of connectivity.

As of a year ago, worldwide cell phone usage reached 60% thanks to third world nations. Compare this to the Computer Industry Almanac’s estimate that in 2011 Internet users will top 2 billion. This means there are already more people using cell phones now than potential computers in an imagined or hoped for future.

Focusing on the here and now, then, has format implications. Using 2009 estimates, the penetration (how many people have use) of cell phones is 42% while Internet use is at 26.6%  To reach and be reachable, then, by the greatest number of people worldwide with the greatest ease does not mean a multimedia experience, it means text—phone to phone texting. With a few strikes of the thumbs (cell phone typing), information has left the computer age behind for the cell phone age. Billboards, mass mailers, and emails need to be replaced with text messaging, and patrons or customers need to be able to reach us via the send button.

The growth of cell phone adoption has ramifications nationally too. Bucking the traditional digital divide, African-Americans and Hispanics within the United States are leading in cell phone usage. Texting is more than an international issue. It is a cost based one due to high computer hardware costs; and it strikes just as close to home as it does internationally. In any arena, though, the solution to broad service is statistically clear—text and be texted.

Read more about cell phones in these books from your library:

185 Wireless Secrets: Unleash the Power of PDAs, Cell Phones, and Wireless Networks by Jack McCullough

Mobile Marketing Campaigns by Kim Dushinski; foreword by Laura Marriott

New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion by Rich Ling

Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 by David Crystal; with cartoons by Ed McLachlan

You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones Are Connecting the World's Poor to the Global Economy by Nicholas P. Sullivan
 

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