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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 12:34 GMT
From iPhone to iGroan
Pat Simmons, the speaking clock, in 1962
No Google Maps functionality? Not a difficulty
A new mobile phone has been launched amid much fanfare and hype. But, as a survey reveals half of adults feel overwhelmed by technology, not everyone's jumping up and down.

Prancing around the stage at this year's Macworld conference, Apple boss Steve Jobs described his latest gizmo as "magical", history in the making and a "revolution". Some of those in the audience he was addressing had queued all night to witness the object of his superlatives. And it was... a phone.

OK, it's a sophisticated phone which also combines the functions of an iPod and an internet device, and not forgetting Google Maps, but it's not the first and not everyone has been cast under Jobs' spell.

I have a mobile phone and keep it in the car
Edward Enfield

"The iPhone? I haven't read carefully enough to know what it does except I do know it seems to do everything," says Edward Enfield, 77, columnist for The Oldie magazine.

"But I don't want this thing in the least. I rather like not wanting one. Presumably it's a phone and you can get music off it, but I like silence.

"I don't want to walk around listening to music. I don't have an iPod, I just read about them."

After taming his fax machine, which is peppering the phone line with bleeps, forcing him to briefly abandon the conversation, he returns to the subject.

"My worry is that people will not be able to communicate without such things, but they can always ring up or send a fax. I have a mobile phone and keep it in the car and I ring up to say 'I'm on the two minutes past three' and my wife says 'I'll meet you'. We don't chat on it.

"I don't know how to text message. Our children have tried to text us occasionally but we keep it in the car and it's off. But we're still perfectly accessible, they just have to ring us up."

Blissful ignorance

And Mr Enfield is not alone. A survey for Computing Which? Magazine reveals that half of British adults feel overwhelmed by new technology and struggle to understand new jargon.

Although 71% of households in the UK have a personal computer, many adults have difficulty understanding the associated technical terms.
iPhone
It's a phone... a p-h-o-n-e

But for many adults like Mr Enfield it is not that they don't understand but that they choose not to be interested, when they feel like they are being told they should.

Writer Will Self is well-versed in modern technology but chooses not to get broadband, sat-nav or the latest mobile phones. And he takes pleasure in how outdated his equipment is.

"I believe - perhaps erroneously - that in my own small way I'm putting a brake on the hurtling wheels of technical innovation and especially the relentless infiltration of the internet into every corner of our lives," he wrote recently... his point only marginally undermined by the fact his comments were written for an AOL discussion page.

And even for those fond of their gadgets, like Nick Parker, editor of Bling, Blogs & Bluetooth: Modern Living for Oldies, this iPhone business has all got a bit out of hand.

"I don't need my mobile to show movies and take my photo, it's amazing enough as it is," he says.

The launch of a new phone may have been heralded as something to change our lives, but clearly there are some who just don't feel the magic.


Thanks for your comments. This debate is now closed.

iThis and iThat...What is happening to the world. Have we lost the art of entertaining ourselves without digital gadgets? I am proud to say I do not own a mobile, let alone one with camera, internet access and a million other things that cost people money, but don't use. If someone wants to speak to me they can use my landline, or write me a letter . . . old-fashioned maybe, but at least I'm not permanently attached to an inanimate object isolating me from the wonderful natural world around us.
Tracy Churchill, Ely, Cambs

I work in IT. I have a very sexy phone that does everything except make tea - and it might even do that. What do I use it for - phone calls and text messages. I do not need the camera, the video, the games, the internet connection and I have no desire to listen to music every minute of the day. So why did I buy this model - find me a small, reliable and good looking phone that does not have all these features and I will swap in an instant.
Gordon, London

The functionality really doesn't differ that much from some of the mobiles already on the market. It's just another example of how well Apple have mastered the use of brand loyalty. I think it's highly optimistic to say that this device is the future.
Paul, Hampshire

I have got two degrees in Telecoms Engineering and in Computer Science and I don't even have a mobile phone!
David S, North Harrow

I disagree with those who say that technology improves communication. Many people now use mobile phones and MP3s so much that they have lost the skill of communicating on a personal, face to face level, and I believe this is having an adverse effect on society.
Nick Hooper, Bristol, UK

Something that impressed me far more than the iPhone was the story I saw recently about the man who wired the workings of a mobile phone into the case of an old rotary dial phone - pointless, but classy! More useful if someone could squeeze a mobile into my Psion, which is old but at least has a keyboard big enough to type on!!!
Ronnie MB, Wisbech, UK

I am 62 but technically savvy. I make part of my income marketing a specialised mathematical model and another part writing bespoke programs. I have an MP3, a mobile phone and a digital camera with the technical characteristics I want - and at a combined price less than the iPhone (all trade marks acknowledged).
Ron, Cambridge

Manufacturers have apparently managed to seduce most of the world's population that they need to be able to communicate, take photos and listen to music whenever and wherever they are. However the costs of this on society and the environment are only now beginning to be realised. In the meantime the technology and telecomms industry milks millions through excessive charges and gadget upgrades. I for one do not NEED a mobile phone. I do have a digital camera, but only because they are so much more convenient than the film variety. And I have no wish to listen to music everywhere I go, silence should be treasured at times. Please can anyone provide a valid reason why a phone needs to be able to play music through the speaker?
Mike, 40's, UK

I'm 28 and understand most of the technology that's out there, however, I choose not to buy into it. I have a mobile phone which is four years old and is only capable of making phone calls or texting. I'm perfectly happy with this and wouldn't want more from a phone. Old fashioned? Maybe, but I'm happy this way.
T Montgomery,

I have a mobile phone which I bought because it has an MP3 player. I deliberately bought one with technology that would last me at least 2-3 years. Nice try Apple, but you're far too late. iPhone? iDon'tcare
Mark Jones, Plymouth

When I changed mobile 'phone services last year I was asked by my new provider what I would like my shiny new mobile to do? "Make and receive telephone calls when I am not able to access a landline." I replied. The puzzled answer came from the call centre operative: "Yes, but what else would you like it to do; play music, take photos, access the internet?" "None of the above." I said, "I already have a CD player, a camera and an internet connection at home, all of which will perform their tasks better than a mobile." I ended up getting one with a music player and a camera anyway, because all of their 'phones do apparently, which I never use. And I'm in my thirties, not seventies!
Howard, London, UK

The iPhone is pitched at a certain target market and from the moment it launched it has become one of the most sought-after gadgets on the planet and will doubtlessly sell millions of them! There have been articles online recently stating how more consumers than ever are warming to tech products....really highlighting how pointless this article is.
Matt, Herts, UK

What you should see in years to come is that as the older generation die out, and I say this with all due respect, the types of comments from Mr Enfield will be a thing of the past. Children use computers at school and will be far more literate using technology than the older generation. The idea that technology stops people communicating is wrong. It just opens more avenues for communication to take place.
Scott Lawrence, London

How do people get so excited over a phone. I have had a mobile for 7/8 years but i don't want bells and whistles. I want a small, stylish, well built, phone that makes and receives good quality calls. nothing more nothing less. I don't believe i am alone in this. SJ rethink required!!
Barry, coventry uk

Technology always moves on and it's easy to dismiss any new evolutions, like people did at the time of the silent movies when the first films with a soundtrack were released but the iPhone is the future!
Nicolas Hatton, London, UK

Steve Jobs said "It's like having your life in your pocket". Does the man not realise that my life won't fit in my pocket, and I don't want it to? Actually he might be surprised to learn that my life is the size of, well my whole life actually. I feel sorry for people whose life can be contained in a tiny box of plastic and microchips.
Charlie Pank, Edinburgh

I don't know what my current phone does - it has a very long manual full of words I've never met in my life. But all I want to do is make and receive phone calls and text messages. It's a phone - that's all it needs to do and that's all I'm interested in paying for.
Suzanne, London

Twenty years ago, people asked, "Why do I need e-mail?" "What use is the internet?" and such questions, nowadays, many many business could not, nay, would not even exist without this technology. Certainly in both my professional and personal life the internet has become almost indispensable. Apple have moved things forward but I feel that time is needed to see how this development will affect other companies before writing it off.
Ricky Harding, 34., Exmouth, Devon.




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