@CES: Mobile as a lifestyle, but wrought with problems

** As published in RCR Wireless News ** LAS VEGAS–What does your mobile phone say about you? A group of panelists representing academia, marketers and makers of content and software, tackled the issue of “mobile as lifestyle,” and the sentiment was nearly universal. “I think the cellphone is finally delivering on the promise of what the information age has said it was going to be all along,” said Mitch Feinman, business development consultant at SayNow. “We’re not there yet in terms of what the cellphone can do, at least in the U.S., but we’re getting there.” Lucy Hood kicked off the discussion with some top-line data points from a recent study she oversaw as the executive director of the Institute for Communication Technology Management at the University of Southern California. Nearly 50% of those polled think cellphones have enhanced their lives and teenagers consider their mobile phone the second most determining factor behind clothes in outwardly expressing the person they are to others.

She added that while teens are often painted with a broad stroke as attention-deficit YouTube watchers, as a collective group they also look for news and information at twice the rate of their elders. Kai Buehler, MindMatics’ CEO of North America, said he doesn’t need to look any further than his own home to understand just how pervasive the mobile experience has become. His 3-year-old daughter is so accustomed to using his iPhone touchscreen that she regularly tries to control their TV as if it were a touchscreen as well. “We shape our tools and our tools shape us,” said Ashish Soni, paraphrasing a general sentiment among futurists. The director of the Information Technology Program at USC is hoping to capitalize on that keen interest and shifting behavior by developing a game that will educate people about their health. His team is soliciting advice from the chief of cardiology and others at USC to further engage users with their unique physiological data, but in a gaming format – an interesting twist for such an application, but one he believes that will lead to more common interest and uptick. But for all that technology can promise to deliver, there are still major points of disruption, particularly network backhaul and real-life mobile data experiences, Soni said. You don’t need data points to tell you that it’s a major problem when a technologist like Soni can’t even get data to work on his iPhone at the Las Vegas Convention Center or the Wynn Hotel – and he hasn’t. Worse yet was his story about the GPS unit acting up on his device while he tried to navigate his way to the airport in Washington, D.C. – the technological snafus caused him to get lost and it took hours for him to find his way. “These technologies, as they become more a fabric of our lives, they have to be more reliable going forward,” he concluded.

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