So 4G services will be coming to a city near you by the end of the month. Is it just me, or is anyone else thinking ‘well whoopee fecking do’? Now I know for many this news will be (in their humble and wrong opinions) totally life changing or whatever, but really, does the world actually need phones that can download movies ‘up to five times faster’ or enable updates to Facebook and Twitter revealing what you’ve just had for lunch or asking how to get red wine stains out of a carpet to be posted a couple of nanoseconds sooner? No it doesn’t. And anyone who thinks it does is either delusional, a tosser, or a delusional tosser.
“But what about business applications?” they will scream, “Video conferencing and that sort of stuff – we’re years behind Japan on that kind of thing, you know!” Erm, Yerse. But then we’ve been years behind Japan on pretty much everything technological for decades now, haven’t we, and even if we can catch them up in terms of broadband and telephone access times we’re still never going to have the kind of manufacturing base, workforce resources and social infrastructure to compete with them on any realistic level are we? So why pretend?
The simple fact is that something like seventy percent of all internet traffic is porn, and of the remaining thirty percent twenty-eight-point-seven-five percent is social networking, shopping and illegal file sharing, leaving just one-point-two-five percent for all other traffic, including business. So let’s face it, unless you can masturbate or text (or both at the same time if that’s what floats your boat) five times faster then you’re not really going to gain much from 4G at all, other than an excuse to upgrade your handset yet again for an even more expensive monthly package offering even more features and apps that you’re never going to need or use. And while that may give you a nice, warm feeling for the day or so immediately following the upgrade, have you really not learned yet that the fleeting sense of achievement you get from that shallow, puerile act can in no way compensate for the all-engulfing wave of depression that follows when you realise once more that you’ve been shafted?
Of course, you may be one of the lucky ones whose powers of denial can, consciously at least, keep that particular realisation at bay, but as anyone who’s studied Freudian psychology (or even just skimmed it a bit) will tell you there’s no hiding from the subconscious, and on some level you will be squirming with shame and embarrassment and struggling with an overwhelming sense of your own inherent stupidity, gullibility and superficiality. And that, dear reader, will haunt you to the end of your days.
Having said that, I recently had a mad moment myself and upgraded my old ten quid does-nothing-but-make-phonecalls Nokia to an entry level Smartphone, and I’ve got to say that for a couple of days I was really chuffed with my purchase. I was a bit disappointed that the volume it offered for MP3 files wasn’t quite as loud or tonally pleasing as my much loved and trusty Sansa Fuze, but consoled myself with the fact that it had cost half the price said Sansa had cost me new and also functioned as a fairly decent camera, a mobile phone and computer, and came preloaded with a fine selection of widgets that had all bases covered with the possible exception of an app to remove stones from horses hooves.
I was even more chuffed when I found a free app at the Google play store that resolved the tonality and volume issues and allowed me to go on deafening myself, especially when the trusty Sansa, in a fit of pique and jealousy, decided to give up the ghost after around five years of excellent service. All in all, that was forty quid (less than half price in a sale) well spent, I thought, my delight only matched by Ben, my son’s, annoyance that the new HTC he’d just paid four times as much for had pretty much the same spec. I do love a bargain, don’t you?
But then the madness crept in. If I can get all that for forty quid, I thought, imagine what I could get if I spent DOUBLE that (stop sniggering at the back, you £500 i-phone owners – you’re the daft ones, not me). So I looked, and lo, the very next week there was an offer for a Vodaphone pay-as-you-go for sixty quid that knocked not only spots but stripes too off the offer that had originally tempted me to part with my not very hard earned cash. Curses! If I’d had the money on me I would have coughed it up and over then and there, so tempting was the 4.5in screen and 1.2ghz processor being dangled in front of me, but sadly I’d only enough money on me to buy the week’s food shop and hadn’t thought to bring my cashpoint card with me (stop sniggering at the back, you plastic-packing pay-now-worry-later credit card junkies – you’re the daft ones, not me). Never mind – I’ll come back next week and see if the offer’s still on.
It wasn’t, but yet ANOTHER offer was, offering a *Brand New* hot off the press model sitting comfortably between the model I had just bought and the one I had missed in the previous week’s sale for the unbeatable price of £70.00, with a fifteen quid cash-back offer if you spent more than £30.00 on groceries in store. God, it was tempting…
But then, dear reader, I came to my senses. I remembered that I have hated mobile phones since their inception, have neither the time nor inclination for texting, and already waste far too much time (though it is only a fraction of the time other people seem to spend) pointlessly fannying around on Facebook and Twitter anyway.
I realised that all I really want is an MP3 player so I can listen to my choons on the hoof and an emergency phone for the odd occasion when I might need to contact or be contacted by someone when a regular landline isn’t available. In essence, all I need is my old ten quid Nokia and my now sadly dead Sansa Fuze, both of which have been more than adequately replaced by the forty quid bargain I’ve already got with a camera thrown in for good measure.
I also realised that even if I had shucked out for the bigger 4.5” screen it would still have been pissing in the wind: I’ve got a 22” monitor attached to the PC on which I’m typing this and still need my reading glasses. Truth is, I’ve got a laptop and a tablet PC (the former a freebie and the latter another excellent bargain that was so cheap I would have been daft not to) already that I don’t use for ‘tut internet’, and while it might make me something of a dinosaur in these ultra-modern times the chances of me actually using my phone in anything but the most dire of emergencies to do so are pretty remote. Besides, I hardly ever remember to take my phone with me when I go out anyway. And if I do I forget to switch it on.
Even worse, if I do remember to take it and I do remember to switch it on I don’t know how to answer the bloody thing anyway; I just panic and go tharn until the little light saying ‘missed call’ comes up and then swear and put it back in my pocket. Later, when I get home, I put on my reading glasses to see who called and give them a bell back on the landline. So far it’s never been an emergency, and on the one occasion when it was the kind of news that you might need to jump in a car for I was on holiday and unable to. By the time I got home it was resolved, and to be honest my presence wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome anyway.
God knows what will be on offer in the sales by Christmas. Technology is going at such a pace that it’s pointless trying to keep up with it. Whatever you buy is going to be redundant two weeks later, and the fact that you can now play Angry Birds on your kettle isn’t going to make up for it when the new improved 4G 3D kettle with toaster, camera, MP3 player and toothbrush combined appears in the shops before you’ve even got your Visa bill in.
Talking of 3D, by the way, have you seen those 3D tellies yet? If I want a headache I get pissed; it’s cheaper, more fun and has stood the test of time. Nope, good old fashioned 2D will do me fine for now, and when sensasurroundsound-smellohologrammo-vison comes out I’ll wait for the prices to drop and then pick up something in the sales. I’ll probably hate it anyway, but it’ll keep Ben happy for five minutes.
 Made up statistics. The actual figure is around 30% for porn, but my guess is I could have got away with it if I’d left this footnote and disclaimer out, which IMO proves something the official statistics can’t. I have no idea what the statistics for social networking, shopping and illegal file sharing are, or how much actual business conferencing etc is conducted online, but it’s something of a moot point considering that what we’ve got seems to work fine for all of those things unless you happen to have a particularly old and crappy phone or a dodgy internet connection that 4G won’t fix anyway.