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Monday, April 7, 2003

Messaging gets more personal
Hugh Wilson

THOSE of you with little interest in accessing high-resolution porn while browsing the aisles of your local supermarket probably missed out on this month’s launch of third-generation (3G) mobile-phone technology. Its real significance will become apparent over the next few years. Because what they will also deliver is a further evolution in the way we flirt, date, conduct long-term relationships and, when it all goes belly up, end them.

According to one recent survey, 69 per cent of traditional text messages are passed between partners. It seems likely that whatever the claims made for a new generation of communications technology, and whatever it promises in terms of entertainment and business, most will quickly mould it for use in their romantic and domestic lives.

Pinging [messaging] has replaced e-mail as the way to stay connected without it being obvious what you’re doing. Hours can pass in a blur of pinging. And the feeling that couples are never truly apart any more will only be reinforced by 3G mobile phones. Having pinged your partner all day from the office, you’ll be able to ping them from the bus home as well. Person-to-person video calling has all sorts of potential applications. And, in the future, location-based services could allow the seriously loved-up to pinpoint exactly where their better halves are (or at least where their mobile phones are) and track their movements.

The mobile dating scene, where details and, increasingly, pictures of potential dates are sent from phone to phone, is growing fast. Soon, thanks to location-based services, lucky singles could exist in an almost permanent state of romantic expectation. — GNS