Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Future Is Callling

From Seattle PI The future is calling cell phones.

If you think all people are doing with those $250 cell phones are snapping photos and downloading J. Lo ringtones, you're a little out of touch.

News and entertainment companies from Maxim magazine and Sports Illustrated to CNN and the Food Network are developing content to make the screen on your cell phone look more like what you see when you surf the Internet or click on cable TV.

"The cell phone is transforming into a small, networked social computer," said Lewis Ward, analyst for IDC, the technology research firm that gathered those numbers. "What's happening is it's becoming the third screen. The first is the television screen, and the second is the screen of your PC."

They're beginning to see their cell phone as both a way to define their tastes and to pass time when they're on the bus, in the waiting room of the doctor's office or between flights on a business trip.

Wine Spectator magazine has introduced a subscription to a review database of 130,000 bottles of wine that cellular users can tap when they're in the grocery store or at a restaurant.

Driven in part by that expanding demographic, the North American market for mobile content will likely reach $14 billion by 2008, according to technology research group Strategy Analytics.

This is something that will go mass market," IDC's Ward said. "It's just a question of how long it will take. It's not a fad. It's not the Hula Hoop. It's already become an aspect of American culture."

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