Not Just a Teacher

binge thinking on technology and education

Not Just a Teacher

America is hands on

September 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment · General

During my travels this summer I found myself back in the US of A. I have visited and travelled round the country many times and lived there for a while at the end of the 90’s. On this trip I spent time in LA, San Diego and New York. But what I found very interesting on this trip was the prevalent use of mobile technology in particular Smartphones and touch screen devices, from my observations, far more than in the UK.

So when I say prevelant use, what exactly do I mean? Well, I’m talking everywhere from in a museums as parents were with their children on a day out in New York, Iphones, Ipads and Blackberries with the odd Android phone in the hand of the parent or carer as they went round the exhibits; similar usage on the beach, on the subway, in airports, walking down the street, in restaurants, bars, etc etc etc. There was very little of everyday life in all the cities I visited that the use of handheld technology was not the norm.

But I come from the England and everyone uses mobiles all the time so what’s the difference?

The differences to me were:

  1. The devices being used. There were very few traditional, non-Smart mobiles. Added to this was a fair portion of Ipads being used
  2. A large amount of people not talking, not in conversation i.e. not using the ‘telephone’ element of their device. The touch screens were very ‘touched’ (except of course with the Blackberry where the keys were keyed) and from the odd glance I got, there was plenty of web browsing, emailing, facebooking and tweeting going on.

So, the statistics on sales must be going through the roof for these companies. Well on they claim the Iphone sales are going “ballistic” and his is supported by the figures published on this site But I am not really concerned with sales angle as such as I can’t afford to invest in these companies. For me, the points of interest are how much more Americans use mobile technology than I have ever seen before, the actual devices in use and what they were using them for as already mentioned above (plenty of web browsing, emailing, facebooking and tweeting).

The amount of use compared to earlier visits and when I lived was a radical change to me. Before smartphones came along, in my view America was way behind in the mobile or ‘cell’ market. Their phones were cumbersome. I don’t think they ever embraced the real sleek, mini phones that are still popular in the UK; plans seemed very localised (but then that’s not surprising given the size of the country) and despite being a nation that ‘loves to call’, not that many people were doing so with mobiles. Why this has happened maybe down to:

“the 3G connection in the US is often faster than the available landline connections, so it is hardly surprising that iphone web browsing has proved so popular”

“Dropping the price of the iPhone 3G to $99 may have helped with sales”

And I am sure that if I researched further there would be even more evidence to support extended national networks cheaper calls, etc.

As regards the devices in use, Apple seemed to be dominating the market although the Blackberry was not far behind and this seems to be supported by the statistics:

I have seen trends among my friends and colleagues where they previously had a Blackberry but have now moved to Iphones as these sites would seem to suggest is happening. Yet, there is still a significant amount of Blackberry use in the USA due to Windows connectivity and business investment in the technology according to those two sources above. So, add to this the smatterings of Ipads I saw being used, touchscreens are very much the norm for mobile technology for Americans as are Apple ‘ways of working’.

A use of this mobile technology for web based activity can be seen from this example: and I have little doubt that in a country where travelling by plane is far more common, Americans are using their devices for such as this. But I am convinced that there was a fair amount of social networking going on and most of this was on Facebooknot Twitter despite my preferences for the later. I suppose this is not surprising given the 500 million plus users of Facebook ( compared with Twitter who is said to have over a 100 million ( Having really enjoyed the Virtual Revolution series on the BBC and the analysis of social networking and it’s affects on people, then I wonder how far away the USA are away from the issues in Taiwan with over-use etc.

Overall, in my opinion, all this leads me to think that we will be at some time be in exactly the same situation as the USA are now and some would argue we are not far behind but I maintain that our use of mobile technology is far less reliant on smart and touchscreen phones and the amount of Ipads I have seen in this country is very small. Have I glimpsed the near future?


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