By Claudia Strasbaugh and Alan Gray
Verizon, Horizon, horror facing cell-phone future
Okay, here’s something you don’t need to be a brilliant techno geek-freak to figure out the answer to: Do Cingular, Verizon, and T-mobile finally see the signal – handwriting on the wall, or airwaves?
Duh! Will the sun rise tomorrow? – of course!
Good answer. Next question, how much does their demise frighten them?
Of course a lot – and why not?
They’ve virtually ruled the virtual airwaves for a virtual life time. Alas, like all meteoric rises, even mega stars burn out. Such is the case with cell phone giants.
For you who might have missed the explanation for cell phone business-loss terror, it’s a tad complex, but let’s lay out the pieces so you can easily assemble them to generate a clear picture. Cell phones rule because they’ve freed us from land lines by turning sound waves into signals we can use within range of their transmitters, that they charge us for using.
Now laptops offer digital radio and voice transmission via airwaves. Broadcast of those signals are getting so common that every day, an increasing number of cities around the world are installing Wifi over entire areas. So with free-of-charge to the user telephone service via your carry-around computer – what happens to cell phones?
They give me service by being smaller than your average computer, you say. Not mine! And not yours for very long anyway. The phone mic, speaker, and volume control of my ‘Ear Bud’ – so small it not only fits inside the ear, it’s entire flat surface is about half the size of a postage stamp. Now how long do you think it’ll be before my phone’s in there too?
“Size” you exclaim! – small is a Big deal.
With laptops currently outselling desktop computers 2 to 1, how long do you think it will be before we live the Action figure’s life – popular in the comics – with his watch, phone, and computer held fast to his wrist by a 1 inch strip of velcro.
Cell phone companies hope to slow this process by limiting what you know and what you see coming. Their only obvious plan so far is to block what comes to their websites. They fear the myth of the famous Trojan Horse – that your messages – like soldiers – will be allowed inside their electronic gates to sack their city.
The best method of preventing repetition of disaster wrought by Odysseus is to implement brakes on your links to them. They’re got enough grief with new technology without hearing how some of you don’t like their latest Family Plan.
What Cingular and Verizon are doing is opening themselves up to billable hours by expensive law firms willing to stand between you and your constitutional rights to point to any thing or anybody and have your say this side of slander.
Cingular offers website text reading, “You are granted a limited, nonexclusive right to create a hypertext link to the homepage of the Sites, provided such link does not portray Cingular Wireless or any of its products and services in a false, misleading, derogatory, or otherwise defamatory manner…. This limited right may be revoked at any time.”
Cingular clearly asserts that you can’t say anything tacky about them or link to whatever on their site you don’t like as a means of factually substantiating your statement(s). There will be no “Cingular is too high priced” text followed by a link to Cingular’s online Price Sheet.. If you wanted to say Cingular. They don’t even even want you to say “I love Cingular” and link to a page other than the homepage.
Me, before I develop the link, I’d like it known I think the parent company AT&T practices some pretty nasty monopolistic practices.” Maybe I’ll just skip that link for now.
Verizon says, “You may link only to our home page and not to pages within the site itself. The Verizon Wireless name must not be associated with unfair, deceptive or libelous advertising or commentary or used in any way that will tend to injure or compromise our professional reputation and corporate identity and policies. Your text hyperlink must include the following company name,” blah blah blah.
Do these guys just not “get it” at all?
So who is hurt by a cell phone company shooting itself in the foot? W3 reflects on some of the more famous shoot outs that didn’t make sense to many. Probably the first and worst was “Ticketmaster” attempting to block the site of “Seattle Sidewalk” from linking to the big T.
Seattle wasn’t malicious, it simply offered Seattle tourists an easy method of acquiring admission to popular events. So who won that standoff by shutting Seattle out? Ticketmaster lost revenue. Seattle profited by the publicity of trying to do the right thing.
Cingular and Verizon’s Trojan Horse they fear so much is but an empty shell. Their fears are misdirected. Danger lurks not inside the cavernous beast but in the ground crumbling beneath them as phone calls move to WiFi everywhere.
Will it happen? – for sure. Of course.
Last week, one of the premiere phone coders of more than two decades described a computer produced phone service as “Manifest Destiny”. Uber programmer Phil Zimmermann who once stood off terrible abuse by his own government to give you the freedom of PGP (email privacy encrypting), that you enjoy today, is working tirelessly to draw nearer yet another horizon for you, this time private (often no-charge) phone calls via your CPU. Phil describes the movement toward that technology as “Manifest Destiny”.
“Manifest,” to organize, plan, and “Destiny” your assured future – the term first became familiar when used to describe our settling of America lands, because they were there, because we could.
That tells you what Cingular and Verizon’s chances are of holding back a brand new industry designed to replace them. Will you talk whereever you want, digitally, clearly, hear someone whisper 1,000 miles away, because you can?
Answer is, “Of course.” A better question to “Will you, regardless of who tries to block you?” might be… “Because new technology is there, because we can, why not….?”