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Mobiles – Don’t You Feel Naked Without One?

Mobiles – Don’t You Feel Naked Without One?

With more than 2.3 Million mobile phones in use in New Zealand, they have yet to overrun the population figure or the number of sheep, but still well over half the population has one.

It took Telecom about a year to sign up 200,000 connections onto its new 027 network. However, when the company launched the first mobile network in New Zealand in 1987 it took six years to achieve the first 100,000 connections.

The mobile phones then were bulky and expensive, and came in any colour as long as it was black. They were for rich business people and Miami Vice stars.

These were a few of the perceptions among a focus group Telecom mobile brought together in October to find out about people’s relationships with their mobile phones.

The Telecom research comes hard on the heels of an Australian survey which found mobiles were now deemed such a huge part of many people’s lives, they couldn’t live without them.

Participants in the Telecom study were asked to comment on their perception of the development and uptake of mobile phones.

As hair got bigger in the late 1980s, the group noted mobile phones got smaller. They were still considered to be expensive to buy but yuppies could afford it. They felt that most people were still in denial over mobile phones – “I don’t need one.”

The 1990s brought free call minutes, cheaper phones, call plans with a free phone attached, and mobile phones became more popular.

In 2002 mobile phones fit into the palm of your hand, and there almost isn ’t a plumber in New Zealand without one.

Mobile phones are no longer just voice devices. People text messages on them, schedule their day, take photos and store or send them, read emails, browse the Internet and listen to music.

They enhance their lifestyle by helping them organise, be social, feel safe, be entertained, be accessible and have fun.

“My phone is on my key ring, it’s part of my kit,” declares a self-employed female, 40.

The feeling of security having a mobile phone provided was important, particularly for females. “It gives you security and therefore you have more freedom. If you break down or something happens you can make instant contact, said a 23-year-old female call centre worker. A mother said she felt safer listing her mobile number rather than her home number in a classified advertisement.

The freedom to screen calls was important. “I decide who I want to speak to. If it’s a number I don’t know then I just leave it and let the phone take a message,” says a 23-year-old male student.

Some participants treated their mobile like an old friend. “My Samsung and I watch TV, go to the pub together. I found him on the web site. He wakes me up and tells me about events, a male student, aged 23 said.

A 25-year-old mother says she and her mobile go everywhere together – shopping, lunch, brunch, even for walks. “My Samsung is a female – underweight but well dressed, says a 20-year-old tradesman, “She goes everywhere in my pocket – hunting, fishing, the pub, work … always on, always there.”

“Don’t you feel naked without it?” asks a prison officer, 35.

Mobile phones organise my life, says a call centre worker. “I can phone the bank to check my balance when I’m in the supermarket or when it’s time to pay the bar tab and I don’t know if I have enough money. It saves me some embarrassment.”

“When we’re down at Stewart Island clam diving or hunting I can check on my mobile phone the weather reports and the marine forecast for 12 hours ahead. That’s great. We know whether it’s worth going out.”

Mobile phones cause envy. “I call my mates on my mobile from the top of mountains and ask them what they’re doing? – I’m on top of such and such a mountain and it’s gorgeous!”

They enhance lives. “My nine-year-old sits at the traffic lights talking on his phone – it’s an old one and not connected but he feels just like Dad.”

They entertain. “In boring lectures we all have our phones set to vibrate. The lecturer hates mobile phones but we’re all busy texting away, says a bar manager and student.

Mobile phones also work well as a locator beacon. “Honey, I’m five minutes away.”

© Scoop Media

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