It is not unfathomable that a 7th Mass Media may appear sometime in the not too distant future. This new mass media is the mobile phone or as some call it, the cell phone. With around 84 percent of American adults owning a cell phone, cell phone usage has already penetrated deep into our society. It is reported that two-thirds of cell phone users also use other features including texting, e-mailing, web browsing and ”apps” (software applications that allow them to play games, access web content and access media or data). Only a third of Americans now use their cell phones just for making phone calls (Domain-b). CellularHYPERLINK “//www.articlesbase.com/computers-articles/how-cell-phones-have-changed-our-lives-432849.html” HYPERLINK “//www.articlesbase.com/computers-articles/how-cell-phones-have-changed-our-lives-432849.html”phones have had a major impact on our lives and the way that we perform everyday tasks. Many of these changes are apparent, while others we may not even be aware of (Anonymous).A cell phone is the only universal gadget because the need to communicate is more powerful than the need to compute, to be entertained or to be informed (Ahonen 1). With a cell phone we get all of these things wrapped into one little neat device that fits right in our pocket. The cell phone “is not the dumb little brother of the internet, nor the dumb tiny screen version of TV. Yes, the cell phone is small, but it has attributes that make it a superior medium in many ways and a dominating media channel in the three most important factors – reach, audience accuracy and money” (Ahonen 6). What Ahonen is saying is that while small in size, the cell phone will have a huge impact on mass media.
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The power of the mobile phone as a mass media is six elements not available on previous mass media. (1) The phone is the first truly personal media. A 2006 survey by wired revealed that 63% of the population does not share the phone even with one’s spouse, it is that personal. (2) The phone is always carried. A survey in 2005 by BDDO found that 60% of the population sleeps with the phone physically in bed; a Nokia 2006 study found that 72% of us use the phone as our alarm clock. (3) The phone is the first always-on mass media, today many media offer alerts via the phone, what is on another real time media like TV, such as CNN breaking news alerts via SMS. Probably the most important, is that (4) the phone has a built-in payment mechanism. No other media has a built-in payment mechanism, even on the internet you have to subscribe to PayPal or provide a credit card, etc. But already today, older media collect payments through the phone. TV shows from Big Brother to American Idol earn billions via SMS votes. Perhaps the most novel phenomenon is that (5) the phone is a creative tool available always at the point of creative impulse. The camera phone (which is also our video recorder and podcast recorder) is in our pocket, always at the ready to snap images and clips. User-generated content is radically altering the media world as seen at YouTube etc. And (6), mobile is the only mass media with near-perfect audience information. Where most print are sold on newsstands and even subscriptions do not tell who in the household consumes the periodicals, and TV and radio rely on Nielsen ratings and similar audience estimates, the internet promised accurate audience measurements. That proved to be a false promise, as firewalls, shared PCs, multiple accounts, removed cookies and users deliberately falsifying their info have proven. But on cellular networks, every individual phone user is identified uniquely, across the billions of phones worldwide. Having a pre-paid account (voucher/pay-as-you-go) does not diminish the unique identification of every phone. Thus mobile for the first time offers near-perfect audience data (Ahonen).
Mobiles are an integral part of our lives – so much that many of us cannot remember a time without them. To have a mobile has become second nature and we are generally never separated from them – we eat, breathe and, yes, even sleep with our mobile phones – making them the most private and personal accessory we own today. And yet, there is still a lack of understanding about how mobile can be a powerful, complimentary mass media. It can be boiled down to two key differentiators: 1) mobile is interactive; and 2) mobile has unique features including SMS and MMS. These differentiators create something that no other media can – the ability to respond to, initiate and maintain a dialogue between those wanting to communicate, whether they are family and friends, colleagues, or brands and advertisers (Ahonen, Foreward). Like the internet before it, today the phone can replicate everything the previous six mass media can do. You can consume newspapers, read magazine articles, listen to radio and podcasts, buy MP3 songs, watch TV, even watch whole movies on the phone. Any web content can be consumed on the phone, and the phone easily supersedes the interactivity of the web, because e-mail and IM are already on the phone, but SMS and MMS messaging are unique to mobile. Nick Wiggin, the head of the Mobile Marketing Association, says: “The mobile phone will be the red-button technology of the future it will enable interaction with broadcast media, be that radio, posters or TV. Mobile is the media glue that links different communications solutions together” (Bonello).
These days’ people are all about portability we want to get news, listen to music, and even watch some of our favorite TV shows all on the go. “Mobiles are an integral part of our lives, so much that many of us cannot remember a time without them. To have a mobile has become second nature and we are generally never separated from them. We eat, breathe and, yes, even sleep with our mobile phones, making them the most private and personal accessory we own today”(Ahonen). The future will be even more mobile. We will be connecting more people, devices, pets, plants, etc – all via mobile, not via the traditional internet or television or any other technology (Ahonen and Moore 55). Mobile is a simple solution for many people to simplify their lives and how they choose to get their information. Will cell phones phase out more traditional media such as print media, Television and Radio? This is still uncertain but largely people own twice as many cell phones as TV sets, there are three times as many cell phone subscribers as internet users, and four times as many cell phones as Personal Computers. Advertising, news, TV, internet giants, social networking and even Hollywood movies and printed books are now rushing to capture their share of this 7th mass media (Ahonen 1). Through about six decades of continuous evolution, the mobile phone has retained its relevance to the life of the modern man. At every stage in his growth curve, it has undergone metamorphosis, adding features and functionalities that make it even more indispensable. It started as an extension of the landline; a bridge between the home and office landlines. It found relevance in the need of the modern professional to remain in communication in and out of home or office, at play, in the car, at lunch and anywhere else. The mobile phone has since moved up from this simplistic role to become more actively involved in the way modern businesses are conducted (Awe).
How has mobile changed news media? How many people get their news has largely changed. First was radio, then television, and then came the internet. So where does the cell phone fit into all of this? The cell phone is a valuable tool for both obtaining news and capturing it live. Chicago even has its very own 9-1-1 video call line where citizens send images from their cell phones to the police department if they witness a crime has been committed. “The images from 9-1-1 callers will allow authorities to analyze emergency situations more objectively,” says Jose Santiago the executive director of the city’s Emergency Management and Communication.”They also can be used as evidence in a criminal case,” he said (Main). Portable news via a personal cell phone is accessible to the public 24/7 wherever that specific person may be; this has made news on the go a likely choice for anyone with a cell phone who wants to keep up with what is going on in the news. Nearly half of American adults say they get at least some of their local news and information on their cell phone or tablet computer according to a survey by the Pew research center (Purcell, Rainey, Rosenstiel, and Mitchell).
How we get our music is also changing due to the mobile phone. In adapting to an age where the passion for music, particularly among the young and the young at heart, has risen to obsessive proportions, mobile phones have largely become music devices. There are mobile phones on the market that are anything between a radio transistor and an MP 3 player. There are many that can give almost the same music experience as traditional music devices. Apart from downloading music for listening pleasure, mobile phone users can also download any music of their choice as ring tones (Awe). Music was the first content type to emerge as paid downloaded content to mobile phones 11 years ago. Today mobile is a giant new market opportunity for the music industry. (Ahonen 46). With so many changes and advancements in technology these days it is not surprising that music and how people get and listen to their music has transitioned as well. The portable music revolution has been with us for only a few years according to an article in Wired Magazine online, but we may see a slow transition from a standard mp3 player to a cell phone when it comes to music access and playback. This change will not be driven by cell phones that act like MP3 players, dishing out music that must be organized by the user. It won’t even be about software that streams your own music to your phone. Instead, the next great thing in music technology will be cell phone applications that replicate the experience of listening to interactive, customized radio stations at a computer (Buskirk). According to Buskirk, interactive radio on your cell phone can replace your mp3 player. Most interactive radio services such as Pandora, Flycast, and AOL radio have free and paid versions for getting access to your music. Of course not everyone will automatically throw away their standard mp3 players in favor of this option. One of the downsides to accessing music via cell phone is that the music is streaming online so if you have no signal, then you have no music. Accessing music with our cell phone will become a viable option and will continue to grow in popularity but it will not totally replace other more traditional methods.
Books are also transitioning. In fact, while items like the Amazon Kindle are popular portable reading devices, there is another portable device some others prefer, the cell phone. A growing number of people are getting their book fix via mobile phone. It is considered a more convenient method over the dedicated e readers available. The idea of downloading a book to a device you already own is most appealing to those on a budget or to those who simply do not want to carry something extra around all the time to access their books (Kharif). In this technology-enamored nation, the mobile phone has become widespread as an entertainment and communication device that reading e-mail, news headlines and weather forecasts, rather advanced mobile features by global standards, is routine. Now, Japan’s cell-phone users are turning pages. Tens of thousands of Japanese cell-phone owners are poring over full-length novels on their tiny screens. “You can read whenever you have a spare moment, and you don’t even need to use both hands,” says Taro Matsumura, a 24-year-old graduate student who sometimes reads essays and serial novels on his phone. Such times could be just around the corner in the United States, where cell phones are become increasingly used for relaying data, including video, digital photos and music( Associated Press). It has also been noted that cell phones may be more important to the future of publishing than dedicated e-reading devices. Whereas in the US dedicated devices such as the Kindle, Nook, and iPad get most of the spotlight, these devices have been slow to make it to the rest of the world and so most people elsewhere read on their mobile phones. Since mobile phones tend to be considerably less expensive than e-book devices, in the developing world they are far more likely to be owned for other purposes already (Meadows).
Using cell phones for internet access is also very popular these days. Although most people still access the Internet on a computer, the use of mobile devices to check e-mail or browse the Web is growing, outpacing even laptops in some markets, according to a new study (Associated Press). What is media convergence in relation to cell phones? Convergence is the process where several media channels come together to exist and operate in synergy or rather in harmony. A media convergence is basically seen in every person’s cell phone, glance down at your palm and there sits a device that can click a photograph, edit and modify the same and also send it like a mail. Some people like to define media convergence simply by stating it to be a merger of mass media and communication outlets. In some cases multi utility of the same gadget or some media was also attributed to be a media convergence (K). By virtue of it always being with you, the mobile phone is the most personal of devices. Let us look at the following questions:
How many of us have personal pictures on our mobile phones? (It holds our precious treasures)
How many of us keep personal appointments or reminders on our mobile? (Like a personal assistant)
Is our mobile phone used for an alarm? (We go to bed and wake up with it)
Does our mobile phone serve as a GPS? (Gives directions – helps us get to where we need to go)
There are many uses and most importantly many personal uses for a cell phone because we are busy, always running around either for work or for home the mobile device has grown in importance , and continues to do so. Marketers know this and so does everyone else in the world. They want to interact with us as close to that moment of want as possible. That moment when we see something and we want it! They want to have a hand in creating that moment for us. Marketers, merchandisers and everyone else want to interact with us as much as possible and wherever we find ourselves. The mobile phone allows the message (whatever that may be) to reach us wherever we find ourselves. For many of us, where they find our mobile phone they will most likely find us! That’s why media convergence is taking place at the mobile phone. Not because of the phone but because of us (HC). Blogger Cdauphin states in his blog on Open Salon about Media Convergence and the smart phone:
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As an avid cell phone user I find that my use of the computer, a past necessity, seems to have gone downhill. Different mass media being converted into the newest technologies has been going on for decades, however I find that the technologies of the smart phones many of us use today has really taken this to a new level and opened up a whole new way of accessing as many media portals in one small device. So much of my life can now be found in this little device that fits in my pocket that my Internet, television and even book usage has gone down significantly. As a daily news addict I have not only changed from reading the newspaper to watching it on television, but now I get an alert on my phone from BBC News every time there is a new breaking story. Being interested in the happenings around the world no longer takes any effort- my phone does the work for me (Cdauphin).
Mobile advertising is the next big thing according to an article in the Economist, last year spending on mobile ads was $871million worldwide. At the moment, most mobile advertising takes the form of text messages. The 2.5 billion mobile phones around the world can potentially reach a much bigger audience than the planet’s billion or so personal computers. The number of mobile phones in use is also growing much faster than the number of computers, especially in poorer countries. Better yet, most people carry their mobile with them everywhere–something that cannot be said of television or computers. Yet the biggest selling point of mobile ads is what marketing types call “relevance”. Advertisers believe that about half of all traditional advertising does not reach the right audience. Less effort and money is wasted with online advertising: half of it is sold on a “pay-per-click” basis, which means advertisers pay only when consumers click on an ad but mobile advertising through text messages is the most focused: if marketers use mobile firms’ profiles of their customers cleverly enough, they can tailor their advertisements to match each subscriber’s habits.
While it is true that mobile phones have helped us connect and make changes in how we get our information on a day to day basis, there are also conflicting views on whether or not this is a good thing. Though cell phones can be wonderful, liberating tools of communication, freeing us from the confines of an office, and providing more leisure time, they often do the exact opposite. Cell phone use has blurred the boundaries between work and non-work time, increasing stress and tension within families and between friends. As Noelle Chesley, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, explained in a report on CBS News, “The question of ‘blurred boundaries’ may become an irrelevant one for the next generation of workers, spouses, and parents because they cannot imagine life any other way.” As Slate commented in his Adbusters essay, “It seems the more ‘connected’ we are, the more detached we become”(Dangl). One of the greatest disadvantages of the cellular phone is the fact that we do not talk to strangers when traveling anymore. In the past, several people waiting for a bus would engage in a conversation while they were waiting. People who traveled the same routes every day might develop friendships along the way. This situation does not happen anymore. Today when people are waiting for a bus, they just pull out their cell phones and speak with old friends, missing out on the opportunity to make new ones. In large cities, many people do not know their neighbors, even though they may have lived in the same neighborhood for years. As a society, we are beginning to lose the face-to-face contact that was such an important part of our lives in the past. Cell phones are a great asset in aiding in our everyday lives. However, “you should remember, however, to hang up every once in a while and pay attention to the world around you” (Anonymous).