So, it turns out I'm a huge cell phone geek.

Instead of writing a blog entry about how I recently legally changed my name, or a blog entry musing about the Question of Achilles, and why I think that Homer is so underrated, I think I'll write about cell phones. And no, you can't complain, because any comment that you leave will be instantly drowned in comment spam that I have yet to figure out how to block.

I imagine that my first cell phone--back in Beverly, MA, in the year 2000--was a non-smart stick phone. I have no idea how I entered names and numbers, or what happened to them when I got a new phone. That new phone, however, was a Kyocera (I think it was a 6035). Since then, all of my cell phones have been computer-synchable, internet-ready, multi-purpose devices, and have always been considered "geek toys" or "barely sensible wastes of cash". This is starting to change--smartphones are going mainstream, and are getting fantastically cool. Anyway, here are five reasons why the end of the first decade of the millennium is the beginning of the SmartPhone Era:

  • Stephen Fry has a blog now, and he's a total SmartPhone nut. He's also extremely witty, vastly intelligent, and has enough cash to purchase every smartphone that has ever been made. I'm not sure if this directly contributes, but it's certainly really cool.
  • The gap between cutting-edge and obsolete tech has finally become negligible. Just like personal computers (where I used to have to upgrade yearly in order to do what I wanted on my dekstop, now it's more like every three years or so), smartphones capabilities have caught up to my desires. Or, at least, my desires are far as cell phones go.
    When I got my Kyocera, if you wanted to plug your phone into your computer and export contact lists you had to pay big bucks for that specific phone (or a handful of equally expensive, bleeding edge versions). When I got my pocketPC, if you wanted to access the web in a reasonable fashion, that was your only option. Four months ago, however, the latest-and-greatest smartphones, while quantitatively better than the previous generation, were qualitatively the same sort of thing. Better screens, slimmer form factor, &c. However, when my PPC6700 died, I got an ancient (by tech standards) Treo650 to replace it, and it does everything I want. Cutting edge is still fun, but it is no longer mandatory for me--ancient tech was good enough to do the job, still.
  • This may change, as the next-gen phones really are qualitatively different. For example, Apple has released a new phone--maybe you've heard of it?
  • And there are two more potentially revolutionary phones coming out soonish, although no one knows anything about them. The gPhone is either an OS for existing cell phone hardware or, perhaps, an entirely new phone. I think we find out more info today. All I know is that Google's flagship apps are fantastic, and I would love to use a phone from them. Especially if it involed VOIP, as some folks suggest. It also seems likely that the gPhone will allow me (finally!) to say "Well, you pay for the meal on your credit card, and I'll just transferyou my share on my phone..."
  • Finally, there's this awesome project: openMoko. In a lot of ways, it's the opposite of the iPhone. Apple has that thing locked down so far that they don't allow anyone else to design applications for it. openMoko, on the other hand, claims to be Open (as in "open source"). For $450, anyone can buy a developer's kit and begin coding applications (and debugging the hardware) right now. When the hardware is finalized and there are enough apps, the phone will launch, unlocked and available for any carrier. (In theory. I mean, Sprint is unlikely to let you use it, but that's up to Sprint. Cingular has a reputation for allowing customers to use unlocked phones).

Fredric Clemons2007-11-22
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Kari Bruce2007-11-24
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Edward Santos2007-11-28
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