Since I plan to spend several posts discussing mobile, I figured it would be good for us to start with a quick 101 to cover some the basic terms and concepts surrounding mobile. Warning to you tech-savvy readers: this post will probably be very basic. I want to be sure to have as many non-technical people as possible stay engaged in this series of posts…hopefully this post will be helpful.
First, I am using the term “mobile” to refer to mobile phones, AKA a “cell phone” in the US, Canada, South Africa; “handy” in Austria, Germany; “mobile” in the UK and many English speaking countries; and a whole lot of other terms around the world.
Here are some capabilities of mobile phones and the associated terms:
- Send/Receive text messages: SMS or “Short Message Service” allows you to send short (160 character or less) text messages to and from mobile phones. SMS is often referred to as “texting” and is actively used by 2.4 billion people around the world. (see wikipedia)
- Send/Receive emails: Separate from text messages, many phones have the ability to send and receive emails. This is particularly popular with corporate users, but is still growing quickly with consumers worldwide.
- Browse mobile websites: Most mobile phones today have a simple web browser that provides access to pared down versions of many websites. The iPhone, the G1 and several other phones have a full web browser that displays websites in a very similar form to what you would see on a desktop computer (accessing websites via a mobile usually involves extra costs and/or a data service plan).
- Install/Use applications: Several smart phones (iPhone, BBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile, Android, Nokia/Symbian) include the ability to install and run programs (applications) on your phone, similar to applications you’d use on your computer. Examples include: games, instant messaging, GPS/navigation, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and even the Bible :)
- Capture/View Photos/Video: Many newer phones include a camera that can take surprisingly good pictures, and on a few phones, record and send video. Even more phones have the ability to view photos and watch video (though the capabilities of what type/format of video that can be played varies greatly by phone).
- Voice Calls: The most common, but often overlooked use of a mobile phone: to make a phone call :)
- GPS/Location Aware: Many newer phones have the ability to access the GPS (Global Positioning System) and tell you where you are on Earth within a few meters. This service has initially been used primarily for navigation/map applications that can give you driving directions. The fact that many mobile phones are location-aware enables all sorts of applications that could help people find nearby services, people or other location-specific information. This may not be a good thing for some, since this recent survey says 8 out of 10 people use their phones in the bathroom.
This list is by no means complete or comprehensive, but it should form a foundation for our conversation.
What are some other uses, terminology or “mobile phone” nicknames that you are familiar with?