Glimpses of a new world where smart­phones rule

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - ByWUYUNHE

Ihad not re­al­ized how much my smart­phone meant to me un­til I lost it dur­ing the Na­tional Day hol­i­day, when I trav­eled to Sanya in­Hainan prov­ince. Sud­denly, a feel­ing of iso­la­tion gripped me as I felt I had lost touch with the world.

Youmay think I amex­ag­ger­at­ing, but note I lostmy friends’ phone num­bers, chat records onWeChat, images that froze mem­o­ries of good old times, mobile In­ter­net ac­cess, Baidu’s nav­i­ga­tion app, my geo­graphic po­si­tion­ing sys­tem, and many other news and e-com­merce apps.

Make no mis­take, a smart­phone is a ne­ces­sity th­ese days. It is not just a phone but a mobile per­sonal com­puter that en­ables me to work, click pic­tures, post and re­ceive in­stant mes­sages, shop and seek var­i­ous ser­vices.

I can’t quite re­mem­ber when the mobile phone had be­come es­sen­tial for me and, pre­sum­ably, for bil­lions of oth­ers like me. Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Industry and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, the num­ber of mobile phone sub­scribers in China has reached about 1.3 bil­lion, which means al­most the en­tire na­tion of 1.3 bil­lion-plus is now on the fast track of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion.

Fore­most, a smart­phone user is a “walk­ing wal­let”, a phrase of­ten used byWestern me­dia to de­scribe peo­ple who spend a lot ev­ery day, either di­rectly to buy con­sumer prod­ucts us­ing their phone or in­di­rectly on pe­ri­odic in­stall­ment pay­ments for the ex­pen­sive de­vice they may have bought.

Take iPhone 6 for ex­am­ple. It would set you back by more than 5,000 yuan ($793.65). On top of that, you will in­cur tele­phone and In­ter­net us­age costs ev­ery month.

As if that’s not enough, many smart­phone users change their hand­sets twice a year for var­i­ous rea­sons.

Given the ease with which you can use a smart­phone for on­line shop­ping and to pay for com­mer­cial ser­vices, you may end up spend­ing much more than you had planned or bud­geted for. You may do all this dur­ing work hours— un­think­able around the year 2000 when brick-and-mor­tar shops still reigned supreme.

A re­cent Bei­jing Youth Daily news re­port caughtmy eyes as it said the Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment is im­ple­ment­ing an ur­ban in­fras­truc­ture re­form project in­volv­ing pub­lic toi­lets in the cap­i­tal city. Un­der the project the pub­lic toi­lets will be equipped with ATMs and Wi-Fi ser­vices in the years to come.

This seems to sug­gest that peo­ple can browse news or shop on­line while us­ing pub­lic toi­lets. Smart tech­nol­ogy will likely be­come om­nipresent in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.

As the num­ber of smart­phone users rose in China, e-com­merce com­pa­nies’ sales reached 1.34 bil­lion yuan last year, up 31 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to the China E-com­merce Re­search Cen­ter.

Killer apps can make a smart­phone all-pow­er­ful, mak­ing it an in­te­gral part of peo­ple’s daily lives. For ex­am­ple, friends and col­leagues stay in con­stant touch via in­stant mes­sag­ing apps such asWeChat. In my case, the sit­u­a­tion is worse. My news­mart­phone has taken overmy life, so to speak.

As smart­phones be­come big­ger and big­ger, desk­top PCs are get­ting smaller and smaller. The world’s top PC pro­duc­ers such as IBM Group Ltd and Len­ovo Group Ltd have seen their busi­ness shrink while smart­phone com­pa­nies such as Ap­ple, Sam­sung and Huawei have stolen their lime­light.

It is hard to imag­ine what the smart­phone will evolve into in the years to come. Some news re­ports in­di­cated the world will soon en­ter the era of house­hold ro­bot­ics. Ro­bots at home, it seems, can be con­trolled re­motely us­ing smart­phones. There is no doubt the smart­phone has be­come our win­dow to the world. With­out it, we will risk los­ing con­tact with the world. You and I can ill af­ford to lose our smart­phones any­more.

Con­tact the writer at wuyunhe@chi­


A model shows a smart­phone at an ex­hi­bi­tion in Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince.

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