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Spillikins ¹171. Fake Calls
It’s been a lazy week for me due to the long May holidays in Russia. There have not been any big news and the smaller ones were not that interesting to discuss in the Spillikins. I have posted my first look at Samsung Galaxy S3 and I am going to post a full review quite soon. I must say that so far this new toy of mine has been a real bundle of joy. It is not a perfect phone but it is a big leap forward as compared to Galaxy S2 especially in terms of the battery time.
For the whole next week I will be on a business trip but will keep working on all the articles I promised. But enough for that – let’s get to the Spillikins.
There is a nice restaurant in downtown Moscow I like and frequent. The tables there are well set apart allowing you to have your meal in peace. Once I saw a very beautiful woman in her 30s sitting not far away from me. She looked like s bank or an insurance company employee. She was dressed very well with modesty and taste. She had two phones that kept ringing all the time she was answering them quietly but in the silence of the room everyone could hear her. This made me and others feel intruding so we all kept staring at our meals. At a certain point the woman began talking a bit louder with anxiety in her voice. I don’t know whether she made that call or answered it. Apparently, she was talking to her boyfriend and used plenty of loving diminutives which made all the people around her feel even more awkward. I glanced at her then and was shocked – she wasn’t actually making a phone call! I could not help but listen to everything she was saying from this point. The thing is, her phone had a reception LED on the back that flashes during calls. But when she was ‘talking’ to her ‘boyfriend’ it was dead. I was trying to figure out what could possibly make her do that. Finally, after she hung up I walked up to her and asked to have a look at her phone saying I was thinking about buying one of those. She did not look like flirting and said that the battery was dead but handed it to me anyway. While I was ‘examining’ the phone I pressed the Power button and found that the phone still had over 50% charge. I thanked her, returned the phone and made a note about this story.
Some would say it was a trick to attract attention. But I think that she was not doing it solely for herself. I think she was a simulating a life situation which she cannot have in her real life. We quickly forget the games we played when we were kids. She was playing house like once in her childhood. Most of us leave such games in the past but some adults like her play these games to compensate for something they don’t have.
My little daughter has recently got a new toy cell phone. A couple of years ago she had her first toy phone which she used to ‘pick up’ phone calls, say hello, a few words and hang up. She was playing adult like all kids do. Now since she’s gotten a bit older she has much longer ‘conversations’ with her imaginary girlfriends and she always plays this game when there is an adult to watch. Why would a mature woman do the same thing? Psychologists offer a number of explanations. I personally like the idea of children reduplicating the social code by copying behavior of adults. The same can apply to mature people and that women felt the need to demonstrate others how successful she is in her personal life. I don’t think that this is a deviation of any sort and I don’t want to judge her. I have been seen many other people do the fake call thing.
The first time I saw fake calls I was in Mexico in the 90s. I was amazed by the fact that so many people were talking on the phones in a tiny town. Many of them were quite loud, some were even shouting into their mobile phones and were attracting a lot of attention. My companion was fluent in Spanish and she was surprised to hear that many of those people even poorly dressed were discussing big business deals. Back then cell phones were not rare in Moscow too but were not very affordable. The contrast of shabby clothes and mobile phones was striking. I asked our guide about this and he took us to a radio shack that was selling phone replicas $5-6 apiece. For ten bucks you could get a realistic replica that could ring and had a flashing screen. These fake phones were insanely popular for a short period of time. As I learned later this phenomenon happened to other countries with low average income. People simply wanted to show off their wealth with those things. As you see, this game also required audience.
Cell phones became very affordable, phone replicas are gone but people are still making fake calls. Samsung felt the need and now their phones have the Fake Call feature. You press a button and your phone starts to ring, the screen shows an unknown number calling and when you pick up the call your ‘interlocutor’ will even mumble something simulating a real conversation.
There are many reasons why this feature is useful. One of them, I have already mentioned – it is the desire to compensate for your social or private life, to play someone else like the Mexicans or the woman in the cafe. I have seen a man dressed in very old clothes on a bus ‘discussing’ a multimillion dollar deal, a young girl scolding ‘her personal driver’ for being late making her take the bus. These games are pretty innocent and some people just need them.
I have been observing people talk on the phone for long time and I know that real conversations have very specific tempos. Soliloquies are extremely rare on the phone and usually it is a mark of a phone call caused by talking to silence. I have also noticed that when faking a call people begin to talk louder. It may be because they actually want others to hear what they are saying or may be it some sort of a psychological response to silence on the other end.
During fake calls people also act differently e.g. they interact with the surroundings a lot more than during a real conversation. There is a number of little things that can give away fakers.
People also use phone calls when they feel unsafe e.g. when they think they might get assaulted. It is a good strategy since you create a ‘witness’ that could call the police.
All fake calls have one common feature – they always have the target audience. Very often in Russia when pulled over by road Police people pretend to be calling ‘powerful friends’. But the cops know their ways too and usually simply ask to let them talk to the ‘friend’ and usually this turns against the faker.
I am sure you have a few such stories of your own or maybe you have a few tricks for making useful fake calls. Join in the discussion in the comment section below and I promise to post the most interesting ones in the next Spillikins.
Another aspect of fake calls is when you trying to convince your interlocutor that you are some place you are not. I think I will make it a chapter in one of the upcoming Spillikins.
This funny case became an online hit. When Siri was asked which smartphone is the best this iPhone 4s app answered Lumia 900 without any hesitation.
Apple got into this funny trouble, because its search algorithms use Wolfram Alpha service, ranking smartphones in an odd fashion. For example, there is no Apple iPhone 4s or Samsung Galaxy S2 in the list, which features HP models on WebOS instead. It is interesting how a particular service (Siri) relies on another one and it leads to unpredictable outcomes. We have not a true state of affairs reflected in the search returns, but the impact of information pressure represented by a PR campaign around Nokia 900 Lumia, which labels the handset as the best smartphone. This trap was unearthed by chance, but now many will look for vulnerability in similar systems deliberately. You can use a weak point of a rival and make it advertise your product. Consequences can be different. I could not remember a similar case before. What about you?
Many elements are required to ensure a fast growth of the market. Carriers should provide new services, while customers need new gadgets to support such services. In the history of telecommunication new devices often lagged behind innovative services. With the emergence of smartphones we received a flexible system to get the maximum with little effort. The only limitation is the range of radio frequencies supported by manufacturers. The advantage goes to carriers, who offer more smartphones from different manufacturers. You need this environment to develop services. It is not even vital if the handset owner knows that she has a smartphone. The key point if you can use a service or not. In the US taxi drivers often use Google voice navigation, when they just ask a question and get a route. For them Android or iPhone is not an OS or a smartphone, but a tool to receive hands-free help when they need it. Client needs here come to the fore.
The idea is simple - when you have a huge amount of smartphones US consumers have a chance to enjoy high popularity levels for any imaginable service or app. In other countries the growth is slower due to a smaller number of smartphones on hands. In US smartphones currently take up 60% of all active phones, which is staggering.
Finally, look at the survey conducted in the US from 2006 to 2012 among users aged 18 and above. It is clear that a mobile phone is a device, which can be found in any pocket. Related opportunities are truly limitless.
Several companies played with the idea of modular handsets, but only Modu from Israel managed to deliver its phones to the market, but it could not become successful and eventually filed for bankruptcy. The idea behind modular phones is simple – as hardware becomes obsolete fast you can still use the screen, camera and other elements for some time. Why not come up with the module containing the radio elements and attach additional modules to it thus defining the exterior of the handset. Vertu came with the opposite solution when the body was unchanged, while the hardware inside had to be replaced when needed. Neither company followed this concept through.
Nevertheless, I believe that the silent revolution took place and modular systems are here with us, though it looks different. The only viable modular system is Apple iPhone. Visit any Apple Store to see numerous accessories to measure blood pressure or heartbeat, dream length, miles you walk or buildings height and radiation levels. In fact we get a central module and external sensors to make the phone different.
The concept of modules makes Apple iPhone more popular and easier to develop apps for. The rival platform Android also supports the idea trying to overtake iPhone. According to the latest data developers view these platforms as main targets for their hardware and software products. Surprisingly, we missed the revolution, which happened in our everyday life. The phone became the centre of the modular system, which can be adjusted depending on particular consumer requirements. The development is only beginning as Android wants to be vertically integrated and be present in phones, navigation systems, game consoles, TVs and other devices. The phone will remain the system centre as you will not carry your TV around!
This is how we ended up with modular devices. One of the symbols is the speakers with phone jacks, which has only the speakers and a remote. We do not have small modules, but it is difficult to guess what will happen in future. It is possible that companies will rejuvenate the original idea and the approach will reach the market of consumer electronics.
P.S. Have a nice and sunny week! Be happy!
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Published 16 May 2012
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