Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—February 13, 2017

Mobile Phones Will Number 5.5 Billion by 2021
The 11th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 to 2021) projects that there will be more people on Earth using mobile phones in 2021 than there are with access to running water. By 2021, more members of the global population will be using mobile phones (5.5 billion) than bank accounts (5.4 billion), running water (5.3 billion), or landlines (2.9 billion). Mobile data traffic shows no signs of slowing down. Mobile data traffic will represent 20 percent of total IP traffic globally; this is up from only 8 percent of total IP traffic in 2016. Story by Chris Preimesberger for eWeek.

Findings Suggest Most People Use Their Cell Phones to Pass Waiting Times
When queued up for an event, to buy a latte or waiting for a bus, most people whip out their phones to pass the time-most often within seconds of arriving. Daniel Kruger of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research was curious about how quickly people used their phones while passing the time waiting. So he set out to determine this with an observational study. Kruger found that 62 percent of people waiting used their cell phones to pass the time. About half of these people were already using their cell phones when they arrived. The other half flipped out their phones after arriving, and 55 percent of them initiated use within 10 seconds. Story by Morgan Sherburne for Phys Org.

Retailers Are Offering Free Phone Charging to Get Customers in the Door
Retailers are starting to capitalize on what’s become a nuisance for most people–finding a mobile phone with little to no battery life and no place to plug it in. Neiman Marcus Group, Nordstrom Inc. and Under Armour Inc. are among 140 retailers that have already signed on with ChargeItSpot, which sets up stations inside stores, stadiums, casinos and hospitals and rejuices more than 2 million phones annually. Now, the Philadelphia-based company is adding a survey feature for stores called QuickPoll that asks consumers about their shopping experience as they unplug phones from the charging stations. The technology comes as some retailers have started closing stores to cope with slow traffic and shaky holiday sales, hurt partly by consumers opting to shop more online. Story by Molly Smith for Bloomberg.

NHTSA ‘Oversteps’ in Cell Phone Guidelines, OOIDA Says
Even as truckers routinely encounter the unsafe behaviors of distracted motorists, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has neither the authority nor the expertise to regulate the use of personal electronics, or so says the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. The comment comes in response to NHTSA’s proposed guidelines to address driver distraction caused by mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles, announced last November. These second phase guidelines are meant to provide a safety framework for developers of portable and aftermarket electronic devices to use when designing visual-manual user interfaces for their systems. The first phase focused on devices or systems built into the vehicle at the time of manufacture. OOIDA readily concedes the need to address distracted driving, and supports driver education and legislation, “particularly regarding teen drivers”-but NHTSA’s guidelines aren’t the solution. Story by Kevin Jones for American Trucker.

Rwanda Government Bans Medics From Using Mobile Phones at Work
Effective March 1, healthcare providers in Rwanda will be prohibited from using mobile phones during working hours to “ensure better service delivery.” The announcement was delivered, yesterday, by the Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, at a workshop of health personnel. The ministry made the decision to implement the policy after officials agreed that speaking for long on personal phones affects service delivery in the health sector. Story by Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti for All Africa.

58% Abandon Mobile Transactions Before Checkout
It’s not surprising that consumers around the world are using their smartphones to make purchases. However, while an overwhelming number of people have made a mobile purchase, the majority have not finalized a purchase they started. More than three fourths (78%) of people made a purchase by mobile in the previous six months, but more than half (58%) abandoned a transaction before checkout, based on a new global study. Story by Chuck Martin for MediaPost.

The First Foldable Smartphones May Come from Samsung in Q4 2017
The next step in the evolution of smartphones could very well be foldable devices. Major players in the smartphone industry like Apple, Microsoft, and LG, patented their foldable designs since many years ago, but none had the courage to start mass production. But that might change by the end of this year, as Samsung is expected to make the first move in this unexplored territory. Sources from Taiwan’s handset supply chain claim Samsung is already working on its first foldable smartphone and will begin small production of the device in Q4 2017. The information comes in line with previous reports stating that Samsung could showcase a foldable smartphone prototype later this month at Mobile World Congress. The said prototype will feature a flexible AMOLED display, but the rest of the phone’s specs are unknown at the moment. Story by Cosmin V. for Phone Arena.

Smartphones Have an Unexpected New Rival
Last week, an Indian government official announced that iPhones will start rolling off an assembly line in Bangalore by the end of April, targeted at local customers. It’s a big moment for Apple Inc., which is counting on India’s emerging middle class to make up for slowing sales in other markets. But don’t bet on the iPhone conquering India, or any other emerging market, just yet. That’s because smartphones of all kinds are facing stiff competition from an unlikely new challenger: feature phones. With simple handsets and small screens intended mostly for calls and text messages–similar to the Nokia or Motorola you probably owned years ago — a new generation of feature phones is suddenly looking like a threat to Apple and its rivals. For a technology long ago left for dead, feature phones have lately made some impressive gains. After years of almost continuous decline, global shipments have grown for two consecutive quarters. Story by Adam Minter for Bloomberg.

To Fight Cyberbullying, Ban Cellphones From School
Two years ago, when Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña lifted the ban on cellphones in New York City public schools, they also instituted what they called a “Misuse It, You Lose It” policy to prevent cyberbullying—which has increased 351 percent in that time. There were 804 reported incidents in the 2015-16 school year, compared to 686 the prior year and 178 in 2013-14, the year before the cellphone ban was lifted. The most common types of incidents involve fat-shaming and harassment over race, gender and sexual orientation. The more likely scenario is that cyberbullying in New York City schools has risen in tandem with the number of hours a day that students have access to cyberspace. In other words, thanks to the fact that cellphones are now allowed in school, students have another seven or eight hours each day in which to insult one another online. Story by Naomi Schaefer Riley for the New York Post.

‘Casket Selfies’ Prompt Funeral Homes to Ban Cell Phones
Taking a picture of yourself next to the body of a recently departed loved one is nothing new, but sharing the photo online is, and it’s a trend that funeral directors aren’t very happy about. An association of funeral homes in Canada is considering its own social media campaign to discourage so-called “casket selfies” as in poor taste. Some funeral homes are going so far as to display rules during calling hours banning the use of cell phone cameras. Despite their efforts, people have been hiding their phones only to pop them out at the last minute to strike a pose next to the casket. Story by CBS St. Louis.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.