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Hello, how are you?


Mobile phone innovators think they are cool looking other great things you can do with a phone. One day it’s a camera, the next  a radio.

Other industries innovate by adding mobile connectivity. Slot machines and cola machines have a mobile module to call base when they are full or empty. There have been vending machines where you buy drinks by sending a text and having the cost added to your phone bill. The little old man who fills the machine doesn’t get coshed for the cash but margins on reverse billed SMS made it impractical. It opened the way to an innovative fraud: Kids whose parents paid the phone bill bought cans by text and fenced them in the playground for cash.

Adding mobile to heart rate monitors or diabetes aids makes them much more valuable. Doctors can check patients are taking the tablets and see what effect they are having without the need for constant check ups.
Telemedicine often takes the form of adding Bluetooth to existing medical equipment and then writing software for smartphones to connect and collate. It’s awkward, unreliable and expensive.

This needs to change, the features need to be added to phones. Not for the good of the elderly and sick but for the whole world. There is a ratio, known as the “potential support ratio”, it’s the number of people aged 15-64 who can pay taxes and look after people who are over 65 and retired. In 1950 it was a dozen workers to a retired person, in 2000 it was nine. By 2050 it will be two. There is no way a third of the population can be cared for in a traditional old age way with things like regular doctors visits. Technology has to provide a mechanism for fewer doctors to care for more old people. Telemedicine is a major part of this. This doesn’t have to be done as charity, as the numbers are so huge it falls into the territory of mobile phones which are built by the millions rather than thousands.

It will need some care, a phone which messes up an MP3 download or Geotags a photo wrongly isn’t going to end in a lawsuit, one which sends the wrong medical data is.

The ultimate aim isn’t a phone where you call to say “hello how are you”, but one where you already know.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column  the previous Friday by subscribing here.


Nokia has started selling advertising on MOSH, it’s social network.

Fortune magazine gets history wrong when it says Motorola was slow into 3G (it was with networks, but not handsets). Perhaps they will get the future right in the prediction that A new head of mobile devices is about to be announced.

The mobile phone processor market is a rough place, Intel gave up and sold their ARM based technology to Marvel Now they are back with x86.

It’s dangerous to predict something only a few days away, but I’ll risk it. The new Infineon chipset will be in the 3G iPhone.

When a Swedish magazine was told that HTC was cancelling a meeting because of merger talks they leapt to the conclusion that it was Sony Ericsson doing the buying. It’s much more likely to be Microsoft, which sniffed at Motorola, didn’t like the smell and would love to kill HTC’s Android phone.

Once the innovator, the first network to offer SMS, bundle minutes and great customer service, Orange got a bit lost but under new boss Tom Alexander it looks like it has found the way back.


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