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August 02, 2005

Cellphones are evil 

I still can’t see the point of s. I honestly can’t. I run a global business in 11 countries without one. The only reason for a man owning a cellphone is saving money on a vasectomy. Shove a Nokia down your pants and have your testicles irradiated.
   And text messaging? What the hell is that? The equivalent would be, ‘Hey, buy this Ford Focus, for $3,000,000.’ That’s the level of rip-off that users are experiencing. Morse Code is only slightly less primitive, but not much more.
   Cameras on cellphones? Why? Can anyone actually make out what the heck the photos are of?
   The human race is not progressing technologically, and the cellphone and the iPod are perfect examples of humanity’s retrograde. They both offer a service that is poorer, albeit more portable, than existing technologies.
   It’s amazing to see so-called cutting-edge research that takes you back to the 1950s—or before.
   Next innovation that comes along, really ask yourself: do I need this piece of crap, or is my life all right without it? Is this item really better than what is currently on offer? By accepting plain junk—the pet rock, slime, the Tamagotchi, cellphones, iPods—companies are not forced to innovate, and stagnates. Can the companies provide a camera inside a cellphone that is actually good? Yes, but while we accept low-grade junk, what incentive is there? Can the companies provide text messaging for free? Yes, but why should they?
Primarily, Jack, my answer to 'why cellphones?' is that the most effective communication is person to person, not from place to place. I don't want to call your office from my office, I want to call *you*. And why do we put up with text messaging (sure, I'm biased:, because it is convenient. My mobile is always on - I use it as my alarm clock. So colleagues in San Francisco, New York and London can, and do, text me to keep in touch. Why? Because I'm not always in front of a PC, or at a desk, or walking past a phone booth. And as for innovation, well we've found that all those people who don't know whether they can afford their next round at the bar love the fact that they can quietly text their bank under the table and get back a balance statement instantly. No walking to an ATM, logging into their online bank, or waiting on hold for an IVR system. You'll come round, everyone I know generally has.  
But why would you want people to be able to reach you all the time? I can’t understand that; it’s a foreign concept to me. What about time to yourself, to collect your thoughts, to plan the next step in your life? How about meditation?
   The things go off at the wrong times, usually in socially unacceptable situations. More and more people tell me that I am wise to be cellphone-free. Cities like San Francisco ban them from council meetings. I’m beginning to meet people who have abandoned their cellphones: two or three this year alone.
   Text messaging has such a mark-up on it from the telcos that I just don’t like getting ripped off: the oil companies are already doing that to me. What’s the profit margin on text for telcos? About 85 per cent? Now, I don’t use ATMs, either, and as for what an IVR system is, you’ve lost me. Is it not more convenient to call, and leave a voice mail, than tap away in a language vaguely above Morse code? (Not my example, I have to admit, but that of author Jonar Nader.) I can’t understand why text-messaging is convenient, and I see people tapping away, taking three times as long as a regular voicemail. I organize my life, so if colleagues want to reach me, I get their emails in the morning—since I get 3,000 emails a week, I would hate for those to start going to a cellphone at all hours of the day.
   I can’t imagine going to a bar if I wasn’t sure whether I could afford it; if my income was on such tenterhooks it would be a wiser decision not to go out. The example you give is valid for some, I’m sure, but again it is totally foreign as a concept to me.
   Sorry, no sale here. I totally respect what you do, Jon, and I believe you are among the top 5 per cent at it. I admire that you work in this field and are making something out of it. And from where you are, you are right to defend its usage: I would be surprised if you did not believe in the cellular world, otherwise your products wouldn’t be so good.
   To suggest I’ll ‘come round’ suggests there’s something wrong with me. Mate, it is not for me, it so far has not been in 18 years of business, and probably never will be. I stick by my post that we are not advancing technologically, and that we are being asked to put up with inferior technologies because not enough of us ask: do I need this? If we seriously asked ourselves this, life might be a lot less stressful.  
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