On Monday, Associate Professor Clyde Bentley, lectured about the growth (more like explosion) of the cell phone industry, how this technology is still advancing and what it means for journalists. I was blown away what he had to say. The facts about how fast and advanced smart phones are getting is just astounding. Not only do 96 percent of Americans have cell phones, but 36 percent of them are smart phones. It’s definitely a growing market.
Until recently, if you had told me how important smart phones were to journalism, I probably would have shrugged it off. I upgraded to an HTC Evo over the summer, an Android based system. (It was a belated high school graduation gift.) Before that, I had a flip phone I had used for the last couple of years. It was a little beat up, and texting with T9 was frustrating, but it worked. I thought smart phones were cool, but I didn’t see what the big deal was. I wanted one, but it was more of a “well, that would be cool” kind of desire. I didn’t realize how much it could be a part of my life.
When I walked into the Sprint store this summer to get my new phone, I was upgrading in a big way. My dad paid for a data plan because he figured it would be useful for me in college. When I talked with the customer sales representative, I showed him my old device. He led me over to the smart phones, saying, “For you, anything would be a pretty big jump.” I got a headache just looking at all my options. Eventually, I settled on the Evo and catapulted myself into the world of mobile technology.
Within a couple of days, I was hooked. I checked Twitter and Facebook pretty much everywhere. When the internet went down at my apartment for about a month, my roommate and I used it every time we needed to look something up at home. I checked the weather. I checked my email. I used the GPS. I took pictures. I downloaded apps just because I could.
Once the euphoria of being a smart phone owner wore off, my obsessive usage dropped, but I started to see how useful it could be. At the beginning of the semester, I used it to contact a source for my half-semester project. I had to set up and conduct an interview in about 12 hours, and the only contact I had was an email address. I spent the morning on and off my phone, communicating with him and working out a meeting time and place.
So I have to agree with Professor Bentley: the smart phone is a hugely powerful device, and we can’t ignore it. It can easily become an integral part of our day, and it can be a powerful tool for journalists who want to get the news to a society on the go. Even if people don’t have the time to sit down and read a daily, they can look up headlines on their phone.
This kind of technology is advancing at an exponential rate, so fast we can’t keep up with it. As an example of how fast this is happening, Professor Bentley showed us this video in class:
How long did it take you to figure out it was a fake? I didn’t clue in until the part about how the phone could make my coffee. And I think that makes an interesting point about how fast technology is moving cell phones forward and how many uses they have. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of the first functions became a reality in a few years. At this rate, cell phones will easily become a huge part of our lives. As journalists, it’s up to us to move as fast as we can to use this technology to get news out in the best possible way.
(As a side note, the Pomegranate video was created as part of an ad campaign for Nova Scotia. If you go to the website, you will eventually be redirected to a tourism site. I was so absolutely impressed with this advertisement that I would consider going to Nova Scotia just because I like the video that much.)