In search of a chic cafe hidden in the neon alleys of a teeming Tokyo business district, Mr Hiroki Wai activated the global positioning system on his cellphone and punched in the cafe’s phone number. A satellite in the Earth’s orbit charted his progress on a full-colour street grid displayed on the screen of his cellphone. ‘Now turn left; now turn right, walk straight ahead…Hurray, you’re here!’ the voice chirped from his receiver.
‘The cellphone is way past being just a phone in Japan,’ said Mr Wai, 32, a systems engineer who wakes up with his phone alarm at 6.30am and then uses the phone almost every waking hour to send and receive dozens of e-mail messages, link remotely to his home-office PC, download music and read newspapers, even novels, during his commutes. ‘For us,’ he said, ‘the cellphone is now a way of life.’
The cellphone market in the United States is set for a major shake-up after the recent announcement of a US$41 billion buyout of AT&T Wireless by Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless, with the merged juggernaut poised to quicken the rollout of such advanced services as access to the mobile Internet and other 3G technologies. Continue >>