In the mid-1990s, as a budding reporter at a newspaper, I couldn't leave for office without ensuring that I was wearing my watch, carrying my digital diary, as also a "physical diary" (that was equally important; because if--God forbid--the battery in the digital diary ran out, I would have to run helter skelter for numbers), a calculator and a pager, besides the regular stuff, such as a pen, my wallet, car keys and a note-pad.
The mobile phone has made so many things redundant. I gave up wearing the wrist watch soon after I acquired a mobile phone. Today, it is a fashion accessory. The digital diary is lying in some drawer, in the company of the calculator, and hasn’t been used in the last 10 years. My (then) employer took back the pager, soon after I acquired the mobile phone. Today, I set my daily wake-up alarm on the mobile too. And of course, I also use it as a camera and a music player…and sometimes, to surf the internet.
Isn't this what everyone has experienced? Why am I stating the obvious? That's because recently, while reporting for a story on iPhones (they are finally coming to India), I discovered another peculiar use the mobile phone is put to--as a bedside lamp.
An iPhone user I spoke to--Richie Chatterjee--is missing the keys of his Nokia mobile phone. Every time he would press the keys of his Nokia phone, it used to light up--irrespective of whether the keypad was locked or not.
This feature came in handy at night, when he wanted to check the time or visit the toilet, much like a bedside lamp. "It was also of help during power outages," Chatterjee said (especially when he had to climb stairs to figure out why the inverter/UPS had tripped).
Since power outages are a regular feature in this part of the globe, a lot of people in India use their mobile phones as a torch. That's probably why Nokia had introduced an entry-level phone in India a few years back--Nokia 1110--that actually had a torch.
The Apple iPhone's touchpad needs to be unlocked before it glows. So Chatterjee can't use it as a bedside lamp. And unlocking it during night-time can be tedious. Well, Mr. Jobs and his team may have never anticipated that the touchpad can actually cause inconvenience to iPhone users in this part of the world! The emerging markets are never easy to understand. Or are they?