Local Links of Interest

Cellphone Tracking Study Shows We’re Creatures of Habit – JOHN SCHWARTZ, NY Times

Research that makes creative use of sensitive location-tracking data from 100,000 cellphones in Europe suggests that most people can be found in one of just a few locations at any time, and that they do not generally go far from home…..people’s wanderings are so subject to routine that by using the patterns of movement that emerged from the research, “we can obtain the likelihood of finding a user in any location.”

Scientists have long wondered how to measure something as ephemeral as movement. If general rules and algorithms of people’s wanderings could be discerned, they could be used to create computer models for understanding emergency response, urban planning and the spread of disease, say the authors, whose work appears in the new edition of the journal Nature.

The use of cellphones to track people, even anonymously, has implications for privacy that make this “a troubling study,” said Marc Rotenberg, a founder of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. The study, Mr. Rotenberg said, “raises questions about the protection of privacy in physical spaces, when devices make possible the capture of locational data.”

There are serious ethical issues as well, said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. While researchers are generally free to observe people in public places without getting permission from them or review from institutional ethics boards, Mr. Caplan said, “your cellphone is not something I would consider a public entity.”

The New iPhone’s New Winner – Om Malik, GigaOm

There are a number of speculative pieces about the coming iPhone. Forbes notes that it might unseat the Nintendo DS in the portable gaming area and Macrumors notes that it is likely to include public transportation on Google Maps.

Om Malik notes with authority that “whether it’s a new 2G model or a super-fast 3G, there is one thing that’s for sure: The new iPhone has Global Positioning System (GPS) built into it“.

Apple’s entrance in the GPS market could have long term affects on the way that GPS is generally delivered and on the sales of stand alone GPS devices. Apple, by integrating it into the iPhone, could change the low end of the market. Automobile companies integrating the device into the dash could attack the higher. In concert these movements could affect the stand alone GPS business significantly over the long haul.

GPS devices and the Nintendo DS are both potential players in the hand held mobile computing market. As a lightweight user of GPS services and games, the single device approach is much more appealing to me and I assume to others as well.

Those Intense iPhone Users

Nielsen Mobile shared some first-quarter 2008 data about how iPhone owners use their phones to communicate with each other.

It’s no surprise that 25- to 34-year-olds make up the largest segment of owners, or a third of all iPhone users. But the over-50 set makes a significant showing, too, as 14.4 percent of iPhone users are aged 55 years old to 64 years old.

Other findings:

The most popular feature for three out of four iPhone users is the iPod function. But slightly more 76 percent send e-mail and 68 percent use the Wi-Fi function.

About 36 percent of iPhone users have a monthly bill more than $100. That is 16 percentage points higher than the average mobile phone user.

37 percent of iPhone users watch video (ten times more than the average cellphone user), 20 percent play online games (nine times more than average) and 33 percent send instant messages (three times more than average).

The iPhone is most popular with personal users, but business employees make a significant showing. About one in four consumers use their phones for business, but pay the bills themselves. Another 15 percent say the company foots the bill.

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