Smart phone: dumb nation?
Yesterday evening I was walking down a lane near my house and a man was coming towards me staring down into his mobile phone. I thought, “He will see me, he will see me.” Then I thought, “He won’t see me, he won’t see me.” I stopped and he didn’t. A quick “sorry” and he walked off resuming his downward gazing. Smart phones don’t make smart people it seems.
This got me thinking, which is always a worry. Around two in five adults in this country have a smartphone (Ipsos Technology Tracker) and the figure continues to grow; last year the devices started to outsell PCs (IDC). Three in five teenagers admit they are “highly addicted” to using smartphones, compared with 37% for adults (Ofcom). We cannot ignore the mobile generation, even if they do ignore other people on the pavement.
Internet access through mobile phones will eventually be the default setting for everyone. Mobile will be the one-stop shop for social interactions, finding, buying, selling, playing, watching and reading, and who knows even the odd phone call. Smart devices are not just about communication, they are our identity. They will even select music for you based on your pulse rate or location (not sure I want ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ when I’m in the bath).
We, as human beings and consumers, are changing with this technology. We don’t store information, we access it. We used to know a lot about a little, but now we know a little about a lot. That doesn’t necessarily make us smart though.
We, as researchers, know all this information from the data stored on the phone and without having to ask any questions, but it’s a lot of data to work through. Einstein said we cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Making sense of all this is the next frontier of media research and market research in general. It will also be the theme of the MRG 2012 Conference in Monte Carlo.