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Here's my ideal wireless "phone" solution that I fully expect to be paying one of you big telecomm companies for in the coming years (so, listen up!):
The service includes no minutes. The device is the last kind of mobile hardware I'll ever own. Now, let me explain what the future of personal communication looks like...
I'll start with the service. Essentially, I'll be paying about $60 per month per user (tax, title and license), for what we would refer to today as a data plan only. That's not to say I can't make a voice call, but the paradigm will have flipped, so that I pay by-the-minute (I'd say about 50-cents per) to talk to anyone anywhere at a conventional "number."
Maybe for an optional monthly fee, I can buy a phone number by which I can receive these outmoded voice calls on-the-go too, but unless it's my official public business line, I probably won't go for it (it would be like paying for a fax line nowadays, or a static IP address, if you're down with the computer lingo).
Because the phone is voice-capable, it still can access emergency services like 9-1-1, but more casual conversations that just have to happen in real-time will utilize that "data plan" for Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP, e.g. Vonage) or IP video calling, as with Skype or Apple's FaceTime.
So, let's take a closer look at that data plan of which I speak.
Functionally, it is much more robust than today's services by the same name, but also, it's simpler. It is fundamentally a mobile broadband connection to the Internet, which is the only real reason to even have a wireless device in my little world of tomorrow, here. This connection is truly BROADband, as in a symmetrical 10Mbps (that's 10-down and 10-up) connection with no "network management" schemes to hinder my usage and absolutely no GB caps.
This unlimited plan is actually unlimited, and the only network management my provider engages in, is f***ing maintaining and evolving their own hardware out of a natural desire to be competitive. No YouTube blocking, overage charges or connection governing, and if it's not consistent enough, I go to the competition and sign up for their service for $61/mo. instead!
Now for the gadgetry. I'm still working out the ideal form-factor, but my "phone" will be a portable HD television, camera and video conference unit. It has USB, Bluetooth and the Wi-Fi's. Not quite a computer, its built-in storage needs not be excessive, as the bulk of global information lives in the Cloud, and only a few choice multimedia assets travel with me as I move.
It will probably need sat-based GPS reception, voice recognition and the ability to "tether" legacy equipment to its Internet link, for good measure. Obviously the battery will have to be something out of science fiction - small enough to be sexy, but powerful enough to plow through all these apps like a champ, 15+ hours a day.
Maybe some kind of eco-inspired, bio-regenerative tech like a built-in kinetic trickle charger that turns my every motion into electro-potential throughout the day. I don't know, call MIT. The point is that this thing is my link. It comes to play every day, and it doesn't quit 'til I do. I don't carry around five devices to do simple individual tasks anymore, I have this thing, and it does it all.
Note however, that it is relatively disposable. It doesn't hold the contents of my life or the key to my moral soul. It's more like a dumb terminal. It gets me online. It's just how I communicate. If it gets lost or stolen, it sucks a lot, but the thing is easy to "brick" and cheap to replace. I walk in to my local electronics store and buy the latest model for a hundred bucks. Moving on.
So, this is what I want. You hear me product development strategists? I'm a consumer, and I'm ready to consume. If you do it right, you win the game, and I give you lots of money for the rest of my professional life, alongside about four billion of my closest colleagues. Oh! Make that eight billion - because it works in space, too. Nice.
[Vonage® is a registered trademark of Vonage Marketing Inc.; Skype® is a registered trademark of Skype Limited; FaceTime® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.; YouTube® is a registered trademark of Google, Inc.; MIT is a registered trademark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is not in any way affiliated with this article, author or website.]