By Dara Bramson
My 12-year-old brother has been probing the Internet for a new cell phone and yearns for a Sidekick: a gizmo among latest technological phenomena. Meanwhile, he’ll have to be content with his dull Motorola V551; and by dull I mean only including a camera, video recorder and Internet access.
Phones aren’t enough; the original iPod is already archaic; who still owns a Blackberry? It makes me feel unbelievably old that the hi-tech trend of my time was beepers. Nowadays, beepers are a mainstream joke. From beepers to the Sidekick, we’ve obviously come a long way in our communication technology.
It seems younger kids crave the futuristic gear most. Older adults express enough difficulty being computer literate while college students seem to prefer quality to convenience. “I have my phone, computer and camera. I don’t want a poorer quality of all three just to have them together,” said Allison Schack, a 21-year-old college student.
Also targeting the young clique is the iPod Nano, an “impossibly small” gizmo that holds up to 1,000 songs. Personally, I’d be afraid to accidentally eat it. Don’t get the wrong idea though, not anyone can be a part of the in-crowd. A decade ago, kids could scrounge up $19.99 for a beeper and a month of service.
Today kids either need a full-time job or generous parents. An iPod Nano starts at $199; minimum $250 for a Sidekick. Cingular recently introduced the Motorola ROKR, the first mobile phone with iTunes advertised at $249.99 with a two-year contract. E-mail access, news updates, instant messaging, video recording, TV access. What’s next? These features may be advantageous for nomadic businesspeople, but can it be more than a popularity enhancement for 12-year-olds? It remains to be seen whether the surge of futuristic devices is ephemeral. I’ll keep my beeper around just in case.