Friday, April 5, 2013

The cellphone turns 40

3 April 1973 -- Martin Cooper of Motorola makes the first call on a cellphone.  You can see his witty reflections on that fatal first mobile call (to his counterpart at ATT, who actually pioneered the concept of mobile telephony), the cellphone's impact on society and his vision of the future  in this CNN interview.

Cooper is right in saying that our lives have changed since the introduction of this device, but as Manuel Castells and colleagues suggest, it is not 'mobility' that makes the cell or mobile phone so powerful a tool, as they put it:

"The key feature in the practice of mobile communication is connectivity rather than mobility. This is because, increasingly, mobile communication takes place from stable locations, such as the home, work, or school.  But it is also used from everywhere else, and accessibility operates at any time.  So, while in the early stages of wireless communication it was a substitute for the fixed-line phone when people were on the move, mobile communication now represents the individualized, distributed capacity to access the local/global communication network from any place at any time.  This is how it is perceived by users, and this is how it is used.  With the diffusion of wireless access to the Internet, and to computer networks and information systems everywhere, mobile communication is better defined by its capacity for ubiquitous and permanent connectivity rather than its potential mobility (Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Qiu and Sey, Mobile communication and society: A global perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007, p. 248) (emphasis added)." 

Back to Martin Cooper, his vision of the future has cellular/wireless devices continuing to evolve to be even more hands-free and embedded.  And, interestingly, in a sign of the times, the remote interview with Cooper in 2013 was conducted via Skype.

Update: May 2013
M.I.T.'s Technology Review suggests that the move to mobile business models is just beginning.  See article, 'Mobile Computing is Just Getting Started.'

No comments: