The technological difficulties that O2 have experienced recently have thrown the amount of importance that we attribute to our mobile phones into sharp focus. Since the emergence of the devices a couple of decades ago and particularly since the boom of the so-called ‘smart phone’, our lives seem to have slowly been transferred onto and channelled through our mobiles. Just glancing at a small sample of the twitter reaction over O2′s problems over the last few days reveals just how much we depend on our phones in order to function effectively on a daily basis. But is this a good thing? While smart phones are an extremely useful tool and the broad range of available apps can provide a wide variety of services, is it sensible to rely on just one collection of hardware and software for a lot of our pressing daily needs?
It seems like not too long ago that the most technological aspect of a mobile phone was the ability to play ‘Snake.’ The industry has lurched forward at an alarming rate over recent years and now consumers looking to buy the latest smart phone would certainly be shocked if it turned out to be anything like a Nokia 3310. The growth of the market and the fact so many of us own and use a mobile on a regular basis means that if a major network like O2 goes down across the country, the impact is it has is now amplified beyond an inconvenience. Mobiles have become a major way for people to contact each other outside –and even inside– the house. It gives cause to wonder whether the traditional house phone is surplus to requirements for many people these days.
One of the most revealing aspects of the recent O2 technological problems over the last few days was the reaction on Twitter. The issue was soon trending high on the social networking site and there was much anger and frustration directed towards the network provider. It certainly shows how central mobile networks are to thousands of people’s lives. But it wasn’t just the assortments of tweets concerned about telling their followers about how the problems had majorly inconvenienced them, but it was also interesting to see other people saying that it wasn’t a big deal. Granted, you would venture that those tweeters are part of other networks and were therefore spared being seemly cut off from contacting people through their mobiles, but they do show that at least some people might be able to ‘survive’ a few days without their mobiles functioning properly.
As the regular mobile phone has morphed into a smart phone owing to technological advances, over the last few years the device has moved further onto the centre stage in our lives. Many people might find it almost impossible to conduct their daily tasks, jobs and businesses without the aid of their smart phone. It certainly seems easier to have one all-encompassing piece of hardware in your pocket which can complete a whole variety of functions but when that system breaks, getting in contact with people, which normally is a touch of a few buttons away, suddenly seems decidedly difficult. As the industry marches forward year by year, it is easy to predict that we will become increasingly reliant on mobiles and unable to go anywhere without them. It remains to be seen whether this is a good thing or not.