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The Future of Wireless
By James Mosieur

In 1985, at the beginning of the cell phone era, cell phone users in the world totaled only about 200,000. Today, according to CTIA - The Wireless Association, there are nearly 200 million in the US alone!

In the past some waxed futuristic, saying that someday there will be a cell phone in every car. No one, not even its creator, could imagine that the cell phone would become the most significant consumer electronic device in history; bigger than its wired cousin; bigger than TV’s; even bigger than PC’s.

But that's exactly what’s happening.

A report by the Gartner Group projected that by 2009, manufacturers will be selling 1 billion cell phones each year. By then, 2.6 billion people worldwide will be using cell phones, Gartner says.

The cell phone's impact is so huge because it’s so widespread. A business associate of mine visiting a developing country in Latin America noticed a man riding a bike with a state of the art cell phone on his belt. To him a cell phone took priority over motorized transportation. Anything so big, so powerful, so far reaching can literally transform society.

Many sources project that this year cell phones will outnumber land lines in the US. Right now the mighty cell phone is challenging the desktop PC as the single most important productivity and entertainment tool. With worldwide ring tone sales reaching more than US $4 billion last year, most via over the air downloads charged to the cell phone bill, the viability of the cell phone as a commerce platform has already been proven.

So it’s easy to see how social change can happen. Cell phones are now an intrinsic part of our life. When we misplace them we panic, when we break them we seek counseling, when we lose them we mourn. Our entire life - phone numbers, contact names, important dates, kids pictures, favorite games, CD collection - is stored on this mass of silicon and copper wiring.

Just exactly how the cell phone will affect our future no one can be certain. But we can be certain that the effect on society will be huge. Will our identity be tied to our cell phone number; will cell phones become digital wallets; will they be electronic leashes keeping track of our children; will we someday be able to get USDA approved Motorola cell phone implants?

Who knows? One thing we do know is that new businesses will pop up, new ways to make money will be discovered, we’ll find new ways to be entertained and the cell phone will continue shape society. But for now let’s just enjoy the new 20 megapixel, nuclear powered, video mail enabled iPod credit card flip phone made by Motorola-Berry…sorry…there I go…waxing futuristic again.


James Mosieur is CEO of . He has been in the electronics recycling business since 1985. James writes and speaks on cell phone recycling and related subjects particularly as they relate to the individual consumer.

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