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Cell Phones Changing Life Style  Back
The mobile phone turned 40 on this Wednesday; the first mobile call was placed April 3, 1973, by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper, head of a team working on mobile communication technologies. While millions of users remained busy in search of new generation of phones, there was no fanfare to mark the occasion.
According to Motorola, Cooper made the call on Sixth Avenue in New York, before going into a press conference using a Motorola DynaTAC - a device that weighed 1kg and had a battery life of 20 minutes. Cooper placed the first call to a rival, Joel Engler of Bell Labs. Cooper and his team were honoured earlier this year with the Draper Prize by the National Academy of Engineering for their work.
In 40 years, the industry has gone a long way. Research firm IDC predicts 900 million smartphones will be sold in 2013 - along with roughly the same number of more basic feature phones. And the phone has become a key advertising platform - eMarketer said US mobile advertising spending grew 178 per cent last year to $4.11 billion, and spending is expected to rise to $7.29 billion in 2013.
If that was the news from the developed world, cell phone has also changed the life style even in a third world country like Pakistan. While employees of MNCs and transnational companies and high net worth individuals are seen using very expensive and state-of-the-art sets, even a genitor in the office or cobbler sitting under a tree is seen using some of the very basic sets, for the sake of maintaining connectivity with their friends and family members.
Low denominator cards and 'easy load' facility allows the person to make his/her spending plan, but free outgoing calls on the same network and completely incoming calls from any network has encouraged people to use more than one SIM or develop a family using the same network. Added to these is packages offered by the cellular companies.
Does this mean, an individual has become hostage of cell phone? This is correct to a large extent but the habit changes with the age and availability of ample free time. If students spend long hours on sending and receiving messages, it is becoming difficult to dodge those whom people should be trying to avoid for any reason.
One often wonders on the phenomenal growth of cell phone users in a country where the average per capita income is still hovering around US$1,200, some term is necessity and others call it exhibitism. Though, snatching of mobile phones is very high in Karachi, many are seen using expensive sets ones to show they can afford it, but they have also bought a stolen set, often sold at a huge count.
It is true that cellular phone has enhanced accessibility but also ruined personal life. It looks very odd when a cell phone starts ringing a famous film song in the mosque or graveyard. But it is not because of any fault of the toy but ill mannerism of the users. Often users are told to switch off their mobile phones or put them on 'silent' mode at least, but many take pride in proving they are nonconformist.  
This also reminds ex-interior minister who suffered from the phobia that closing cellular phone networks can help in containing crime. He may be right but criminals are smarter than those working for law enforcement agencies, who still term IED (improvised explosive device) a suicide bomber.