The other week my attention was grabbed by some track-you-down-wherever-you-are mobile-phone technology. Yes, once again, mobile-phone technology has caught my fancy. But this time it's all about frustrating the phone muggers. It's simple and effective. It works like this: If someone steals your phone and you're using the Remote XT system, get yourself to a nearby phone and call a customer contact centre and inform them of the crime.
As soon as you do this, the stolen phone will be traced. Once located, the phone will begin to emit an ear-piercing screech that can only be stopped by taking out the battery, thereby rendering the phone useless. The system also disables the handset itself so that it can't be used even if the thief removes the SIM card. Neat idea.
Moving on to a different but still mobile-phone-related item of news, it looks like the sales boom is cooling down. Research analysts say that companies are really struggling to get customers to upgrade their phones regularly, and that only 25% of phones sold by 2008 will be 3G. This isn't happy news for the service operators that spent small fortunes establishing third-generation-capable networks.
"So make the phones more stylish to encourage customers to upgrade," say some analysts. Others maintain that won't work. Personally, I think it's all about functionality. Yes, it's good to have a nice-looking phone, but not unless it comes with some very slick customer-catching functionality. What the phone manufacturers and the service operators need is another killer application, e.g. text messaging. As we all know, this afterthought by the phone companies turned into a huge business.
So what will be the next powerful application—TV on your mobile phone? Maybe. The way screen technology has improved, it's possible. And it could prove powerful. But there may be more technology questions relating to that inescapable word "power" that must be answered first.