The bane of hand phones

We all remember the old days with a smile when hand phones were as big as bricks, and some of us used to call them clogs. Big enough for the owner to have a fairly strong arm to lug it around, and as some would have it, to use it as a weapon.

Fast forward to today when hand phones are so small that you can pocket it everywhere, have so many functions that you can write novels, balance your finance, surf the net, keep appointments, maintain a list of contacts and of course make calls, while being on the road. Aside, as some would have seen it, as a status symbol.

Not that hand phones in the old days were not status symbols. They were, because very few of us carry those monstrosities, not only because a lot of us do not find the need to carry a phone, but cannot afford the price manufacturers were charging then. People those days were quite satisfied to wait to reach their respective office, or return home and make their calls in the comfort of their arm chairs.

As economics would have it, prices of hand phones have dropped tremendously. If one had to rob a bank in the old days to purchase one, today you can actually change models to your whims and fancy because the pricing have really gone down. It is also the manufacturers’ interest to come out with new model in the market every now and then in order to attract users to upgrade their present model.

Surprisingly enough, one can even see a lot of hand phone users carrying more than one set these days. Is the practice a necessity because the telephone system is inefficient that one has to use different system providers in different areas in order to ensure state wide coverage? Or is it a need of one-upmanship to be better than the Joneses by showing that one has the means of purchasing and using more than one set of hardware?

The humble hand phone has now elevated from being just a communication equipment to a status symbol. It is normal to observe young and upcoming ambitious professionals at public places showing off their latest models when they sit at tables for the world to see.

There are however a few who has not caught up with this one-upmanship social game, who at times admitted it is rather embarrassing to be seen with his out dated model phone compared to the expensive ones used by the young generation today. The wise would not hesitate to smile when in public, these people would insist on hiding their bulky, but more reliable model, in his pocket, and only taking it out to answer calls.

Hand phones today are not only used for mobile calls. Most can remind appointments, to do lists, take pictures, listen to music, do emails, use chat applications, and of course browse the net. Recent published statistics revealed an interesting feature of the situation of hand phone usage in the country. Based on a published study commissioned by Google, Asia is leading the world in smartphone use and engagement, as well as many other online shopping and viewing behaviours.

In terms of smartphone usage over computers, the top five are Asian countries. These are Malaysia (51 per cent: 39 per cent), China (70:65), Hong Kong (74:61), South Korea (80:70) and Singapore (85:74). In fact, 35 per cent of the Malaysian users surveyed say they exclusively use their smartphones and no other device to access the Internet.

The research also showed the importance of the Internet to the travel industry. Flights are the most popular items for Malaysians to buy online with 86 per cent saying they last bought their flight tickets online and 75 per cent had last booked their hotel stays online.

The study also reveals what Malaysians are doing on their phones: Using search engines: 72 per cent of Malaysians do this at least once a month, and the figures are even higher in the rest of Asia. Shopping: In Asia, shopping online is gaining popularity with 28 per cent of Malaysians saying they shopped online on any device. Entertainment destination: Over half (55 per cent) of Malaysians use their mobiles to listen to music, half (50 per cent) play online games and almost seven out of 10 (67 per cent) Malaysians watch online video on their phones.

After a number of years of using hand phones, most users must have come back full cycle and have accepted these gadgets as what they are meant in the first place; as a mobile communication tool. Like all mobile devices, however, they can get lost, which will not happen with the one at home. One is then back to square one – with data stored, notes keyed in and most important, all the contact numbers and addresses of friends and associates.

This scribe has now stopped wondering about the strange decision of an old friend who until now, despite all the money that he has, still stays away from the device.

When asked as to how he stays in touch with his friends, children and grandchildren, he simply replied “I’ll phone them”. What he actually meant is the old fashion way of using the phone; the one at home. Now, is that a thought worth contemplating on, especially in these days of technology?



The writer, who at first prefer the old but reliable sets that can only make calls and send/receive text messages, have now included himself to the current trend of using the latest model in the market. Part of this article in fact has been written while on the road, reflecting the convenience of modern technology.