Cyber Culture: A cheap mobile phone that does virtually nothing? I'll go for that
Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.
Wednesday 07 August 2013
Last month saw the launch of a new mobile handset called ImageFone.
When I read about it, I was immediately struck by the language used by the manufacturers to describe it. A "dumb phone", they said, proudly.
When they used the boastful phrase "the most basic functionality yet", I laughed out loud. In a mobile landscape dominated by processor-caning functionality, the ImageFone does virtually nothing.
It's a tricycle in an age of driverless cars. And, of course, it's designed for young kids. You won't stumble across unpleasant online images on the ImageFone; there's no internet connection. No danger of sexting; SMS isn't permitted. No nuisance calls; only parents can dial in. And a bunch of photos on the home screen allow the child to easily call the person they want to speak to.
It solves all the problems that concerned parents might be worried about when they buy a phone for their kids – but I couldn't help but wonder what the children themselves would think of it. A total of 2.8m British children are carrying some kind of smartphone; their hunger for and appreciation of technology is formidable, and the ImageFone is intentionally dumb, deliberately falling short of being a status symbol.
But while kids might find it embarrassing, it's safe, and it's cheap with prices starting at £50. And during the last week or so, as PPI nuisance calls persist and Twitter has continued to be so profoundly irritating, I've seriously thought about getting one for myself.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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