Mashable posted this morning about today making 40 years since the first cell phone call. I had to stop and calculate how young I was at the time…
Ok – so I was in high school
…and we were happy enough having a phone extension in the bedroom (for you Gen x & Yers, an extension was the teen’s only way to get out of the hall to have a private conversation!) Back then, our parents were panicking that they couldn’t hear all of our conversations anymore. We teens were always worried someone would pick up the other line and listen. Nothing compared to today’s worries over teens and the internet!
So who cared?
I don’t recall knowing anything about this new cellular technology. But then, that is how it was with most inventions in that era. New inventions splashed on the evening news and then disappeared. You learned it was best to not to get too excited because many of these earth changing discoveries tended never to get to the masses due to the huge expense of production.
A great example was Jetson’s style visual communication that featured in the Ma Bell “Future” section of the State Fair (above image) year after year. It was a big flop. Of course, now, the internet has taken over that function with Skype and other internet options. Oddly, visual communication finally surfaced without the use of telephones.
So in light of the simplistic perception we all had about the power of visual communication back then, the only advantage we saw to Picturephones was the ability to see who was on the other end of the line. And we weren’t always sure that we wanted to BE seen! The first concern was whether there was an OFF button!
Never was there any discussion as to the marketing possibilities that would come with portable visual capabilities. After all, this was the era of newspapers, magazines, billboards and only 3 TV networks.
Similar to the beginnings of Social Media, it was just about communication and that’s all. Now, the primary discussion is all in Market-speak.
As with all inventions, you never really know what ultimate usage will evolve, but one thing you can be sure of, someone in marketing will always be asking: