A credit card company may turn a cell phone into a new way to pay.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more columns by Palmer here.
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Just when I thought I was the master of my cell phone and not a slave to it, a new technological breakthrough may allow for something called "mobile payment." One smarty-pants credit card company is trying to turn the cell phone into a substitute for credit cards, allowing you to buy items simply by waving your phone at an electronic reader. It's a marriage of convenience. A credit-phone, debtit-phone. This is like being the person in the back row of an auction house who, oops! buys something by scratching his nose.
Imagine being in the "you-scan-your-own-groceries-because-we-can't-hire enough-employees-line." In front of you, the self-scanner customer is yelling into his phone:
"I couldn't find the rutabagas," says the angry person with wildly gesticulating arms. "You always send me to the store. You try to find the rutabagas next time. What kind of recipe calls for rutabagas anyway? $2,642! I just spend $2,642 at the grocery store? How did that happen?"
While marketers may think adding a credit card feature to a phone will simplify my life, it will only complicate matters. Do you know how many times a day I lose my phone and have to use another phone to call it, only to discover it's underneath a piece of paper on the kitchen counter? What if I really and truly lost it? Someone might buy a time-share in Maui and charter a plane to get to it.
I am not inconvenienced by carrying a credit card. The .000001 ounce it adds to my load burns additional calories. Truth be told, I like the option of leaving it at home so I'm not tempted to use it.
Phone features have already gone far enough. I don't want to text message, play games or take pictures. My phone has a dizzying array of features that only a 10-year-old can understand. A year ago, I got it, and it only took me six months to figure out how to save phone numbers in Contacts, and I really felt superior when, on a trip, I figured out how to use the alarm clock. Most of the features I don't understand, and I don't like the bossy manner in which they are offered: "Get Tunes & Tones! Get Pix & Flix! Get Fun & Games! Manage Music! Sync Music!" Do this! Do that!
If they really want to enhance the cell phone, here are some additional uses and features I would like to see added:
Longboard - If you run out of gas, your cell phone, at the push of a button, extends into a longboard so you can ride to the closest gas station.
Evian phone - holds eight ounces of water.
Sunshade for your nose.
Game piece for Monopoly.
Bookmark or an itty-bitty book light.
Add sand to it, close it and pull out a pearl.
If you have two phones, use them as earmuffs.
And finally, press four if you'd like to simplify your life and go back to a rotary phone.