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(HOST) Cell phones are everywhere these days, and commentator Tim McQuiston says they’re being put to use in some rather surprising ways.

(MCQUISTON) I just got a new cell phone that looks something like a cross between a very small television set and a hand held calculator. Now I have to bend my middle-age mind around all that it is capable of.

It’s easy to imagine that cell phones will be all things to all media very soon. You can already talk on them, of course, but will the voice part become just another feature? They’re an MP3 player. They’re cameras. They’re internet devices with email and Web browsing capabilities. They’re a GPS. They’re daily planners.

Instead of cell phones, they’re already being called just cells, or chells, if you’re really hep geek.

What else can they have? Well, everything. It’s not hard to imagine that they’ll carry every single function that a desktop computer does, and some already do. As speeds get faster, and they will, these things will indeed be television sets. All other media will have to fit the requirements of the chell.

It will happen soon.

In my office I asked one of our UVM interns about the penetration of chells on campus. He said one hundred percent. He added astutely that nothing is ever one hundred percent, but cell phones among UVM students is about as one hundred percent as one hundred percent gets.

The cell phone companies first marketed their products to businesses. Chells were, and are, expensive, and businesspeople on the road or at the job site needed that kind of communication. And every business person quickly got a cell phone. So who was next? Students. College students, high school students and even junior high kids with indulgent and/or nervous parents got cell phones.

Nextel bought the naming rights to stock car racing not for the excitement of really fast cars making left turns all day, but because the consumer market is where the future of cell phones is, or was. Now these even more expensive cell phones, we’re back to the business-market and the cycle will continue and pretty soon the business market will be tapped out with these all-in-one devices and we’ll be back to seeing them being sold to the student and consumer market.

Did I say expensive? My one son’s monthly chell charges are as much as the land line at my house. Do you see the kind of economic impact here?

And who sponsored NASCAR previous to Nextel? A cigarette company. It tells you something about what’s going up and what’s going down in our society.

Last week I went to the Paul Simon concert. When people were cheering and urging Paul to come back for his first encore, my wife looked around and noticed that only a few people were holding up lighters. You can’t smoke in public venues anymore. Then she noticed what people were holding up as a beacon to call the great one back.

Yeah, that’s right. They turned on their chells and pointed their tiny little TV screens toward the stage.

Timothy McQuiston is editor of Vermont Business Magazine.

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