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Communications

The Death of the "Cell Phone" 393

Posted by Hemos
from the out-with-the-old dept.
PreacherTom writes "Once upon a time, the now-eponymous portable derived its name from the small sections (deemed "cells") into which a city was divided in order to keep voice calls smooth and uninterrupted. Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones, while Wi-Fi and WiMax use ever-growing amounts of network bandwidth. Both make the "cellular" moniker obsolete. Is it time for a new name, or is a rose by any other name still as sweet?"
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The Death of the "Cell Phone"

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  • We already have one (Score:5, Informative)

    by stupidfoo (836212) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:46AM (#17001972)
    "Mobile Phone" or just "Mobile"
    • by greoff (650462) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:49AM (#17002024) Homepage
      With the recent media frenzy of crushing everything down to one word, I am sure your Mobile Phone will become Mone.
      • by famebait (450028)
        I am sure your Mobile Phone will become Mone.

        Well, since it's already been shortened to just "mobile" (or the local version of taht) in most countries, I doubt that very much.

        But it might very well become just "mob" or "mobe" in those languages where that works phonetically and fits the language. I've heard it a bit in Norwegian, although it doesn't
        seem to be quite taking over just yet.
      • by forgoil (104808) on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:29PM (#17002668) Homepage
        Why not MoPho instead? Has kind of a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Come on, let's go for MoPho everyone!
    • by Timesprout (579035) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#17002072)
      or "Handy" if you are German
    • by Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) <joshlindenmuth@g ... 926.com minus pi> on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:57AM (#17002184) Journal
      'Mobile phone' is certainly more descriptive of our phones' usage, but to say that we no longer use cells is just plain uninformed. Until we are all communicating to each other via satellite, the world will be divided into small cells for mobile phones to utiliize. While the density of these cells may be much greater than 10 years ago, they still exist (as anyone who has driven off a major road or through the country can attest), and phones still negotiate with many different towers while moving from cell to cell during a call.

      Even if we were using satellite, there would still need to be cells of sorts, they would just be much larger (e.g. thousands or even millions of square miles instead of 5 to 100's of square miles for today's cells).
      • by inKubus (199753) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:15PM (#17003294) Homepage Journal
        Yeah. I think the main problem plauging mobile phones is the providers themselves. They insist on crippling the phones, making it impossible to create your own software, and charge too much. There is simply no economic incentive for them to do more than they already do.

        People like the homebrew mobile [hbmobile.org] club are trying to make a new device that takes the mono out of the poly and gives us all a chance to make it big in the mobile arena. Until the hobbiest can play and innovate, the industry will never be ubiquitous. Look at the PC platform; it really was what led to the widespread adoption of the Internet. BBS's were there first. I don't believe that homebrew mobiles are going to be the wave of the future (where everyone builds their own mobile), but I do believe that it will force innovation that the monopoly providers are not capable of.

        Every day I look at my phone and wish I could do more with it. Just play with it, customize features, etc. And though this is somewhat possible with BITPIM and hacking the control software, it's not the same as having a phone with an open operating system that I can install whatever capabilities I want on it. I don't even care if the device is totally tiny; I'd be happy with a brick that can talk on the mobile nets, low battery consumption, etc, provided it can run anything I want and do anything with data that I want.

        This device would go far beyond the Palm mobiles and far beyond the blackberry in customizability. The whole thing would be based on components which can be plugged together to make a whole device. So, you could choose your case, your processor, your screen, your radio, your memory, camera, OPERATING SYSTEM etc. and it would all be modular components. You could even have a small hard drive ala iPod. The whole thing could run of a variety of power sources, from off the shelf batteries to car to the wall without a bunch of stupid adapters. And of course it could connect to computers with USB, bleutoof and ethernet (wireless or wired).

        Then, in public places you could have special docking stations that would give you access to a fullsize keyboard, mouse and screen. You could have tons of software that could do anything. For instance, since anyone can write software, a local restaurant might higher a phone geek to program a special server at their restaurant that gives the specials, and handles the bill. The bill could be signed authentic with a private key of the restuarant (thus getting rid of all those pesky receipts come tax time).

        I can think of hundreds more. The best part is I DON'T HAVE TO. Because anyone can think of anything and do it, stuff no one has even thought of will come out. Voice services based on asterisk are just the beginning (not that running your own mobile provider wouldn't be awesome)

        Anyway, although the cell network is pretty crappy, it works. They have covered most of the country with at least analog service. The idea we need to focus on is riding on their investment; we can't afford to WiFi the country or even a city in most cases. Although, along those lines, an automatic Wifi exchange would definitely open up the airwaves a lot more, because private individuals have a motivation to open their bandwidth. Anyway, the main thing holding back innovation isn't the network, it's the hardware and provider monopolies on the hardware. So, fight back, join the club, make a cell phone, etc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Is it really that bad in the USA? In the UK, I got a Nokia N70 with my contract, which acts as a modem over bluetooth (so I can use 3G speeds from my laptop or other bluetooth-enabled device), supports bluetooth file transfer (although not as well as Ericsson handsets do), and allows me to install Symbian and J2ME apps. Oh, and plays non-DRM'd MP3 and AAC files.

          The file manager that comes with the phone, for example, is quite bad, but there is a free third-party one that is a lot better. On my last co

    • I nominate: (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:59AM (#17002222) Homepage Journal
      Leash
      • May be "funny" but it is true. With Cell/Moble/Whatever you want to call it.. people can get a hold of you almost anytime and anywhere. So, unless you turn it off or leave it behind, you are always at someone beck and call.

        And with GPS in phones now, you're boss can find you and see where you are at for you're one hour lunch break and give you a call to talk about things.
        • by Danse (1026)
          With Cell/Moble/Whatever you want to call it.. people can get a hold of you almost anytime and anywhere. So, unless you turn it off or leave it behind, you are always at someone beck and call.

          Well, it's either part of your job, or it isn't. If it isn't, then don't talk work if you're not working. Tell them you're busy, or just don't answer it if you know it's a work call. If it is, then I hope you're being paid well enough.
        • by beezly (197427) <beezly&beezly,org,uk> on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:55PM (#17003074) Homepage
          So, unless you turn it off or leave it behind, you are always at someone beck and call.

          I have a few tactics for not being interrupted;

          • Turn the phone off. I use this when I absolutely must not be interrupted. I don't do this often.
          • Set to silent and ignore. I use this when I don't want to be interrupted but I do want to know I received a call. That way I can get back to the person when it is convenient for me. I use this less frequently.
          • Set to silent and evaluate the call when it rings. I use this more when I am happy to be interrupted. I will likely answer the call so long as it announces the CLI to me. If you hide or don't send CLI me when you ring, I am very unlikely to answer - leave me a voicemail. If I don't want to speak to you, I will not answer - leave me a voicemail. I use this very frequently.
          • Set the phone to ring. If I am expecting a phone call from some one that I really don't want to miss (especially if I am in a different room from my phone), I set it to ring. I don't use this very often.

          This gives me four ways to screen incoming calls that I wouldn't have with a non-CLI enabled, non voicemail enabled "land" line. With a land line my options are;

          • Unplug phone. I will miss all calls and I will be unaware that received any.
          • Ignore phone. I will miss all calls. I will be aware that I received calls, but I will not be aware who rang (unless I use something like BT 1471).
          • Answer the phone.

          I prefer the choices that a mobile gives me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jeffy210 (214759)
          That is a general problem with the way people view cell phones. I am sorry, but I am not there for the phone. It is there for me. If i choose to answer it i will. Otherwise, you can have a pleasant chat with my voice mail. Just because you are calling me, does not mean that I have to answer it.

    • That's what I thought. I think it's funny that PreacherTom can use a fairly obscure word "eponymous" properly couldn't think of "mobile". If one is going to try to show oneself off as a wordsmith, I'd suggest finding some other way.

      One thing that the providers here seem to use often is "Wireless", which describes it just fine, except for the few people that somehow think of "Wireless" as only being "WiFi".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        One thing that the providers here seem to use often is "Wireless", which describes it just fine, except for the few people that somehow think of "Wireless" as only being "WiFi".

        Except "wireless" is what my grandfather called his bakelite cased valve radio.

    • Exactly. "Cell phone" has been deprecated by "Mobile phone" in most of the rest of the English-speaking world already. C'mon USA, 1994 called - they want their terminology back...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kypper (446750)
      Rogers here in Canada has been using only one term for the past 3 years: Wireless.
  • SOLUTION (Score:5, Funny)

    by ImaNihilist (889325) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:47AM (#17001980)
    They need to get the guy who came up with the phrase "Cyber Monday" to rename our wireless telecommunications system.
  • really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoffspear (692508) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:47AM (#17001982) Homepage
    Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones

    "it almost seems" to whom? Stand by a busy road sometime, and count the % of people driving past using their cell phones to make voice calls. Come and and tell me it seems like voice calls are the least-used function of phones.

    I suspect the submitter just has no friends who would actually want to talk to him on a phone, because he keeps saying stupid things to them that are contradicted by a huge body of empirical evidence.
    • Re:really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Petronius.Scribe (1020097) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:49AM (#17002018) Homepage
      I wouldn't be standing too close to a busy road if a large percentage of drivers are talking on their cellphones.
    • by GIL_Dude (850471)
      Exactly!

      I know in Singapore they are called "Hand phone" which seems weird because even my phone at home is used held in my hand. But whatever. Anyway, the concept that voice calls aren't used much anymore is total bunk.
      • by RedOregon (161027)
        Same in Korea. I don't think they were *ever* known as cell phones. Quite a trip to visit over there and see little 5 and 6 year old kids trucking around with a "hand phone" hanging on lanyards around their necks. Last time I was over there it was a little difficult to find a pay phone that took anything but calling cards!
        • by Txiasaeia (581598)
          Totally off-topic, I know, but here in Daegu there are coin pay phones right beside carded pay phones, including in prominent places downtown and throughout the entire subway system. It is a little creepy about how much cell phones have penetrated the market, and how most cellular plans give preference to people who primarily text than people who primarily use voice.

          "Hand phones" make perfect sense to me.

    • by garcia (6573)
      I suspect the submitter just has no friends who would actually want to talk to him on a phone, because he keeps saying stupid things to them that are contradicted by a huge body of empirical evidence.

      Or he's in a circle of friends or living in an area where that just isn't true. Take for example the *huge* number of people driving around in Central FL (where I was visiting this past week for the holiday) using mobile phones pressed to their ears. Where I currently live, it's far less people (empirically).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blincoln (592401)
        I agree.

        Slow down, Buck Rogers. There's still a lot of the US that aren't even using your space age wireless communication units yet, let alone something fancier built on the same technology.
      • by Viol8 (599362)
        "and it's because 99% of people I talk to on a regular basis are available via SMS or AIM."

        Not really "talk" is it? Never saw the attraction of SMS myself , just seems like a poor mans email with its pathetic 196 character limit and hopeless word entry system on a numeric keypad. Sure its useful to send directions or something so the other person has a written record but having a "conversation" using SMS is best left to socially inept tweenies and teens who can't actually come out with sentences of more tha
        • by garcia (6573)
          My mobile doesn't have a character limit for SMS (it merges multiple longer ones together into one) and because unlimited SMS is included as part of my unlimited data plan, my minutes are far more precious.
  • source please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:48AM (#17001998) Homepage
    Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones
    I would like to see the numbers for this assertion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones

      I would like to see the numbers for this assertion.

      You want numbers for the assertion? How about one person subjectively noted that something almost seems a certain way? Why ask for figures when the statement is obviously just meant to stimulate discussion?

      I, for one, would like to see more prevalent use of critical reading skills.

    • by brarrr (99867)
      welcome to slashdot, where even the articles are trolls.
  • I'm going to keep calling them phones just to give the metaphorical finger to those Helio ads. YES IT IS A GODDAMN PHONE.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bladesjester (774793)
      I hate those ads. It makes me want to beat the person who came up with them senseless.

      they're desperately screaming "oh, look at us. we're different!" but this makes sense from a company that has chosen to offer MySpace mobile right out of the box.
  • that voice is the least-used?
  • How vacuous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:48AM (#17002016)
    They still work by using cells. Americans and a few others call them cell phones, which is appropriate, even when they use them in WiFi or WiMax mode (which are cell-based, after all). The rest of the world calls them everything from mobiles to 'handys' (in Germany).

    The name isn't as important as the functionality. And texting is what racks up revenue; there's no data that supports that texting minutes of use exceed voice use. I've been watching for that data for a long time, and so far, it's only texting revenue that's becoming higher in terms of minutes 'online' than voice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd (701)
      Yeah. Someone (read: the article submitter) clearly fell victim to Sprint's "The clear alternative to cellular" marketing BS.

      "The clear alternative to cellular" translates in Sprint's case to "The clear alternative to ourselves" because their system was still cellular (simply digital instead of analog).

      Voice, data, whatever - It still fundamentally relies on breaking up a service area into small cells to increase capacity. Heck, municipal multi-accesspoint WiFi networks take the "cellular" approach to who
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      Exactly. If the author had half a brain, he'd be pushing to change the 'phone' moniker, instead of 'cellular'... I seriously doubt anyone is willing to go for 'cellular multifunctional utility device'.

      And despite what he thinks, most people DO still use their phones as phones. It's the vocal minority that use them as something else. You know, the ones who are dissatisfied with what their phone can do. Those who use them as simply phones don't have any complaints about them to complain about.
      • I have no issues with anyone that wants to text, watch movies, listen to MP3s, or use their phone as an eating utensil.

        In the same way that there are laptops, notebooks, tablets, sub-mini PCs, and so on, I'll presume that the natural tendency of language to embue definition will continue. Sloth dictates that any combination of more than two words-- even compounded-- is unlikely to become popular and therefore succeed.

        It was a phone, contrasted by VoIP phone or analog phone. There are wired and wireless phon
  • A simple answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by charlesbakerharris (623282) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:49AM (#17002032)
    Say "cell phone" to someone, and they'll have a pretty good idea of what you're talking about. The current name is sufficient - no need to change it. Language is intended to convey information, not to be perfectly consistent.

    Overthinking FTL.

  • the UK (Score:5, Informative)

    by VJ42 (860241) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:50AM (#17002036)
    Here in the UK, it's never been called a "cell phone", everyone I know has always called it a "mobile phone", or even just a "mobile", anyway, so no need for a name change this side of the Atlantic.
    • Here in Sweden we also call it "the mobile" (i.e. "mobilen" in Swedish). But a lot of the time it's just "the phone" if the listener can figure out if which phone you're talking about.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MythMoth (73648)
      I'd say it's almost becoming more common to refer to the "phone" and use the retronym of "landline" for a wired telephone.
  • Lets call them Smartphones [wikipedia.org]!
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``Lets call them Smartphones!''

      Cell phones...smartphones...you Americans just get yourselves into trouble by picking the wrong words. In Europe, we call them mobile phones (as in, phones that you take with you), and dumb phones (as in, that dumb phone crashed again!).
  • ...they are killing me!!! It started in the summary, "Is it time for a new name, or is a rose by any other name still as sweet?" and ended in the article's final section titled "Wired is Tired"

    My ultra mobile eyes are bleeeeeeeding...
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:50AM (#17002052) Journal
    of a name being more than just a name, like Kleenex facial tissues. 'Give me a Kleenex' or in England, they 'Hoover' the carpets. Cell phone will be around in the English language for a very long time... that is just how language works. They tried to give two-way pagers names other than pager. It didn't work because people just didn't understand what it was till you called it a pager.

    The cellular network configuration is still in use, so the name is still appropriate. When all that changes, maybe there will be another name, but the common usage of cell phone will stick around still.
  • know that our "cell phone" is not so much a communication device as it is an electronic leash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BCW2 (168187)
      And if she becomes a wife? The leash just gets shorter!

      Know how to cure a nymphomaniac? Marry her!
      • by PFI_Optix (936301)
        Know how to cure a nymphomaniac? Marry her!

        I tried, it didn't work :(

        So I got her pregnant. Nope, that didn't work.

        Now she's pregnant again and still always wanting some. What's Plan C???
        • by Palshife (60519)
          The fact that you had a plan A and B frightens and confuses me. My advice is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
        • by Shadow99_1 (86250)
          Erm... Bottle some of her sex drive and sell it? I know my SO could use a bit more interest in sex sometimes...

          Which is awfully funny because once I do talk her into sex she really enjoys it... You'd think soem instinct would cause enjoyable activities to be more common... Anyways...
        • I honestly want to know what's so bad about having a partner who honestly enjoys sex.

          All of mine have (I'm not married. I was close once, but sometimes things happen) and I view it as a positive thing. Now, if that's the only thing they enjoy, then yes, that's not good, but most people have other things that they like to do as well.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:51AM (#17002058) Journal
    I still call a motion picture a "film", even if it's shot on digital. They still call programmes on the radio "shows" even though they show nothing. Aircraft speed is measured in knots even thugh nobdy measures it by throwing a log attached to a rope overboard. People will use a word that has meaning to the person they're talking to. If the meaning changes, it will change.
    • They "cut" (wax records) "tracks" (audio tape) in record studios, even when the output is digital. Also, it is impossible to "rewind" a DVD to see a scene over again.
  • As a linguist... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#17002082)

    As a linguist, I always found the term cellphone quite curious.

    From the start, it seemed unlikely to catch on, as the cell bit was meaningless to anyone but a techy or geek. The UK term seems far more meaningful to the average user: mobile phone.

    So why did cellphone catch on? I'm forced to assume that it's because it sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick.

    So:

    If the average user doesn't associate cellphone with a particular technology, and the change in technology is seamless and transparent (and if it isn't, take-up will be very slow), then to the people that matter -- average Joe and average Jo -- there won't be any need for a new name.

    HAL.

    • by zappepcs (820751)
      The term cell phone probably caught on because 'Cellular One' was one of the biggest cell phone companies way back when they were still the size of a brick.
      • by Khomar (529552)
        Not to mention that "cellphone" rolls off the tongue much faster and easier than "mobile phone" (even in the shortened form -- cell vs mobile). I think it is a combination of the two.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blamanj (253811) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:55AM (#17002152)
    We still "dial", don't we?
  • Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones

    Maybe in your tiny view... But the vast number of other people in this world are still using it as a phone, probably many more people use it as JUST a phone rather then for the other features it has--So to say that voice calls seem to be the "least-used" function is completely idiotic.

    But I agree that the term "cell phone" could easily go away... "wireless communications device" yeah, that has a much nicer ring to it. I'm su
  • by zwilliams07 (840650) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:59AM (#17002232)
    ZW: Hello, I'm looking to get a cell phone.
    Salesperson: Wonderful, let me show you our latest models.
    *Salesperson tries showing off cell phones with various camera, gaming, music, and video functions*
    ZW: I was looking for something with actual battery life and making calls from. I have absolutely no interest in those other functions.
    *Salesperson looks puzzled*
    Salesperson: ...what?
    ZW: I don't want any of those extra functions, just phone service.
    *Salesperson exchanges bewildered glances with his fellow worker at the cellphone case section*
    Salesperson: I don't follow... what do you want?
    • Wow. I'm not the only one who had that moment?

      I went to change my plan a few months ago, and got my new free phone to go with it (the old one was a few years old- so old in fact, that they didn't have a data cable for it anymore so I had to manually re-enter all of my numbers into the new phone). The girl behind the counter commented on the fact that they had free camera phones as well and looked at me strangely when I told her that I just wanted a phone and not a camera.
  • The term "cellular" originally implied frequency reuse in terms of space. WiFi does the same exact thing-- frequencies are reused. But WiFi doesn't support seamless hand-offs from one cell to the next (your TCP/IP connections will drop). And then the FCC refers to "cellular" as the 800MHz spectrum allocated for cellular phones, as opposed to the "PCS" spectrum at 1900MHz.
  • Wi-Fi is used on cell phones more than EVDO is? I would be surprised if that's the case, and given that the BusinessWeek article didn't even mention EVDO, I can't give any credence to the article at all. EVDO is definitely cellular technology, so calling EVDO smartphones "cell phones" (or just "my cell", as I do) is not a misnomer.
  • by lancejjj (924211) on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:02PM (#17002278) Homepage
    Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones

    In other words, despite the fact the cell phones are used mostly for voice calls, more money can be made by selling data services - data services that use the same technology that the voice calls use.

    So it's a hard sell if you call it a "cell phone with high priced data transfer features".

    So a new name is in order, with the exclusive purpose of charging more monthly and per-byte fees.

    Perhaps "Super-Z i-DataMax" is an awesome name that'll help sales of these otherwise lame services? How else can we sell to this otherwise saturated market? Vote "yes" by texting to 50493, or vote no by texting to 50494! (fees apply!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by radtea (464814)
      So it's a hard sell if you call it a "cell phone with high priced data transfer features". So a new name is in order, with the exclusive purpose of charging more monthly and per-byte fees.

      Blackberry?
  • language is a museum (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cucucu (953756) on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:03PM (#17002294)
    Long after things go away, words stay. Examples from telephony:
    • You can "dial" without a dial [google.com].
    • You can send SMS using your "phone" without uttering a single phone [wikipedia.org].
    • According to TFA, you will be able to use your cellphone without cells [wikipedia.org].


    I once read that numbers still reflect the way our ancestors related to number. At first they thought that two and half are two completely separate entities. Soon they discovered that each number is related to its fraction (three --> third, four --> fourth, etc). This is true in English as well as in the other (two) languages I speak.
    So let our language reflect the story of telephony too.

  • In Genrmany (at least while I was there) they were reffered to as a Handy. It was an odd bit of English adoption that has a double-entendre to it only in English. Stragely it was embraced in Germany and most people would talk of 'forgetting their handy'.

  • Really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by KeepQuiet (992584)
    it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones

    And it almost seems that the author of this article has no clue about what he writes. Except capturing a few (bad looking) pictures with my phone, I don't use it for anything else but talk to someone. Actually I wish there were a small phone with excellent reception, battery life and a reasonable price. Almost all phones in the market is full of junk and very expensive. What the cell phone companies give for free is either brick s
  • Just call it a phone.
    It's not like landlines have a spectacular future or anything.
  • "cell phone" is the usage in the US and Canada, but I think in the UK it's usually called just a "mobile" and in Germany, I think the term is "handy".
  • How about "The gizmo formerly known as the cellphone"? Maybe we can just steal an old Egyptian symbol and bypass giving it a real name as to confuse honest consumers and make posers think it's meaningful in the Zen sense of the word.

    Or maybe we can just keep calling it a cellphone and say to hell with nonsense wording that serves no real purpose and get back to letting the phones do what they do regardless if they're used for actual voice calls or any other number of functions.

    I vote for option 2.
  • I'm trying to think of what I used my phone for in the last 3 days:

    * Talking to people
    * Sending text messages
    * Bluetoothed a movie over to my computer and stuck it on You Tube [youtube.com]
    * Used the Calendar to remind me of an event

    So far I can't actually think of any feature my phone is completely pointless...
  • Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones,

    No. Voice calls is the most used function, with SMS following behind. The network operators would like whizzy data services to be the most used service, they would like to get away from being voice carriers - but today, no. The 3G networks are mainly used for 'two way real-time streamed audio' - or voice to you and me.

    while Wi-Fi and WiMax use ever-growing amounts of network bandwidth.

    ever-growing, in this case equa

  • "Annoying little hell boxes"

    Or "Lemarchand's boxes" for you Hellraiser fans.

  • by Chairboy (88841) on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:25PM (#17002586) Homepage
    Saying that the cell part comes from geographic "cells" is simply inaccurate. It refers to the frequency mapping used to allow bidirectional communication over radio through use of frequency "cells". I have charts of cell frequencies from the analog days that diagram this. Imagine a hex board, the kind you would find when playing an RPG in your parent's basement. Each hex cell has a frequency. The spread of the specific frequencies is such that each cell around it is theoretically just far enough away to avoid interference. When you'd make an analog call, you'd stake claim to one of the cells, and based on availability, the phone or tower would choose one of those surrounding cells and use that as the frequency for the other half of the phone call. In large crowds or traffic, the phones could lose the ability to get a signal because there were no frequency pairs available (because they were all in use).

    So in short, cellular describes the radio frequency mapping, not the geographic spread of "cell" towers. Oh, and the claim that nobody talks on their phones anymore is bollox, as demonstrated by the various people who cut me off in traffic this morning while yammering away on their phones. I'm assuming that they weren't simply using them as ear heaters.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kaiser423 (828989)
      Actually, depending upon the type of network, a geographic ocntext is better than a frequency network.

      Typically, each hex cell is divided up into 3 frequencies of 120 degree coverage because you need the extra frequency bandiwdth to shove extra users into the cell -- it's more cost effective. The next cell's 3 frequencies are aligned so that adjacent cells don't have antennas of the same frequency pointing at each other.

      Regardless, cells are largely still determined geographically. If there's a lot
  • If you think about it, telling people how to reach you (i.e. telling them which medium, like "call me on my cell") is somewhat "old think". Imagine a world where all anyone needs to know is your unique identifier - the "network cloud" figures out how to complete the connection. I simply tell my device "I want to send a message or speak interactively with so-and-so". The device queries the network and determines a) that person is known, b) whether that person is accepting the requested type of communication
    • Imagine a world where all anyone needs to know is your unique identifier - the "network cloud" figures out how to complete the connection.

      I'd prefer not to. I get enough spam in my primitive twentieth-century "inbox" as it is.

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:25PM (#17003434) Homepage Journal
    Today, it almost seems that voice calls are the least-used function of most phones

    Bullshit.

    ... while Wi-Fi and WiMax use ever-growing amounts of network bandwidth.

    Double bullshit.

    While cellphones/mobiles might have all sorts of ancillary functions they are still first and foremost telephones. That someone thinks otherwise indicates they need to stop reading Gizmodo [gizmodo.com] & Engadget [engadget.com] and get out in the real world for a few hours. As to WiMax [wikipedia.org] taking up ever-growing amounts of network bandwidth, sure, if up from .00000001 to .00000002 percent is worth blathering about.

    Find me a few production-level WiMax deployments with significant amounts of traffic and well talk. without such this is just so much empty talk wasting more bandwidth then WiMax has yet to carry.

    Oh, and what to call mobile phones? How about mobiles like the rest of the planet? That wasnt so hard, was it?

Time sharing: The use of many people by the computer.

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