Inventing a new cell phone

Steve Jobs got a lot of press for his recent reinvention of the cellphone. The thing about the iPhone is that it doesn’t really re-invent the cellphone. Mostly, it mashes a cellphone together with a few other devices (doesn’t mean I don’t want one).

The thing about the iPhone is that it is designed to better connect users to the network. You can check your voicemail in a random access way, like email, for example. But what it doesn’t do is actually re-invent the very thing that makes cellphones magical: how you connect with other people.

Here’s a few things a reinvented cellphone might be able to do:

  • Let me leave voice mail for groups of people all at once.
  • Let me initiate conference calls with groups of people with just one directory entry.
  • Let me call friends based on where they are at a given moment.
  • Initiate calls with strangers based on their web of relationships (Facebook style) or their physical proximity and status. If there are friends of friends in the airport while I’m waiting, let me see them! Talk to them?
  • Put a dating site into a phone. Pictures and status and location and boom, you can talk.
  • Allow marketers to pay money to interact with consumers who opt in, based on needs, location or just plain boredom.
  • Let me queue up people who want to talk with me and work my way through the list in a way that works for both of us.