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Strategy Session: Cell Phones With Real Smarts

It seems cell phones are on our minds this issue. Peter Rysavy delves into the question of supporting IM on mobile devices, while Dave Molta rebukes carriers for their ironfisted grip on cell phone design and the subsequent feature stagnation. This got me thinking about what I want in a cell phone.

Since switching to a BlackBerry 8700, I've found a few things I miss about my old cell phone and dislike about this one. First and most obvious is the size of the thing--it's too big. Second is the microphone's moronic right-handed orientation. Honestly, they never imagined one might put the thing up to the left side of one's head? If you do, the microphone faces away from your mouth and you pick up a lot more noise. Third, there's no camera. Although I never used the one on my old phone much, from time to time I witness human foolishness that just cries out to be photographed.

Most of these complaints are addressed in subsequent models, but a few things likely will never be addressed. The real biggie hit me while spending my obligatory hour in the airport gate lobby (seriously, security lines are either five minutes or less, or 35 minutes or longer--is a little predictability too much to ask?). I saw three fellow travelers each checking two different cell phones. Each had a smartphone, presumably provided by an employer, and a regular cell phone, probably a personal phone. So, if smartphones are so smart, why can't they manage more than one number?

In an ideal world, cell phones--particularly smartphones--would be able to support at least two numbers. In fact, if Molta had his way, smartphones would support a set of numbers from any carriers the user chooses. Each number would come with a plan, and each plan would support different features. If the business wants e-mail and international long distance and forbids text messages, that's fine. I'll take a personal plan that includes domestic long distance and lots of text and IM messages with some picture sharing.

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