November 30, 2004

BACKGROUND: Cell phone generation - Brazil

Cell Phone Generation

Colorful, sonorous and full of technology. Since they got into the Brazilian market, in a more effective way in the beginning of the of 90Â?s, with the privatization of the telephony sector; mobile phone devices have turned into accessories for children and adolescents. According to a research divulged by Ibope, youngsters from 16 to 24 years old represent a quarter of the users in the eleven largest capitals in Brazil. For many parents, the mobile phone is a symbol of security and control. For the children, a vehicle of communication with the world and a source of entertainment and information.

Â?It is basically a life styleÂ?, completes Rafael Duton, NtimeÂ?s director of Marketing - Brazilian enterprise specialized in Mobile Computation that offers solutions and provides services in the Mobile Cell Telephony field. According to him, besides communicating with friends and relatives, adolescents are willing to have a personalized device, matching their life styles, standards and values.

Marcelo Sales, NtimeÂ?s president, reveals that today there are around 50 million cell phones in Brazil, among which 90% of them allow sending and receiving of text messages (SMS). During the seminar Â?Convergence of ContentsÂ?, promoted by the Institute for the Studies on Television (IETV) in Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo made a quick retrospective on the services that have been offered by the cell phone: Â?In 2002, the device had games. From 2003 on, TV started to make use of it as a means for the interactivity with its spectators. The users were already able to send and receive photos and news as well, download songs, access the internet and take part in chat rooms. For the end of this year and the beginning of 2005, I believe that we will be taking another step forward: cell phones will be sending and receiving multimedia contents - images, animations, videos and music. We are creating a culture of cell phone usageÂ?.

Culture that has been redefining the plans of all segments. José Wilson Fonseca, MTV/Brazil�s marketing director, affirms that the enterprise was �run over by cell phones�, for the demands of the new means of communication. "We had not even been able to solve our interface with internet yet and the mobile phone had already arrived. MTV regards cell phones only as one more communication platform. However a very important one�.

The number of young people that take part in the interactions by cell phone promoted by MTV is quite high. Nowadays, MTV sends and receives messages through cell phones, promotes quizzes (question-answer games) about the musical world and about some programs of the TV schedule. By means of cell phones, the viewer is also able to participate of voting, download screen savers, ring tones and episodes of the carton Â?Paladin VJs Mega LeagueÂ?.

For Andrea Cecília Ramal, the author of the book �Education within Cyberculture�, there is no doubt that mobile cell phone is a symbol of a new generation. �As other technological apparatus, they are technical elements that begin to constitute ourselves as individuals. In a certain way, they begin to take part of our own identity, of our way of being people, today, in a social-technical context�, affirms Andrea, Doctor in Education by the Pontific Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ).

New individuals and new relationships between parents and children. In AndreaÂ?s opinion, a natural consequence, fruit of changes that occur in the various ways of knowing, thinking, acting and learning. Â?One of the most characteristic elements of actuality, in this new mediatic age, is the rupture of frontiers of time and space. Communicating today means enjoying a speed never seen. Nowadays communication is just in time, in real time, and the amount of messages is each larger. That, for sure, modifies the relationship between parents and their childrenÂ?.

For Rafael Duton, NtimeÂ?s director of Marketing, any rupture or revolutionary technology, will promote meaningful changes in peopleÂ?s lives. Â?The cell phone is one of these revolutionary technologies, and not only evolutionary, since it creates a new manner of communication, leisure and work. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. In the relationship between adolescents and their parents, the resources of the cell phone that already exist, and others that are to come - as geographical localization -, generate a meaningful and positive broad impactÂ?, he observes.

Rafael goes beyond that. He believes that cell phones are able to and will still be quite used in order to promote digital inclusion to the whole population, as well as in its constituting process of promoting knowledge and values: Â?Still, there has been no significant study on how to use cell services in order to help education of individuals. By means of games, for example, I believe that it might happen. In relationship to digital inclusion, an e-mail address could be created for the exclusive access by cell phone, benefiting the individuals that do not have access to computers and, consequently, to the Internet. A little farther scenario, as cell phones are not available to every citizen yet. Even cheaper devices and the pre paid modality demand a maintenance cost - which is considered an extravagance to a significant amount of the population, in face of the revenue that have. But definitively, it is about new mediaÂ?- he affirms.

Number of cell phone in Brazil
Year Number of devices
1990 667
1991 6,700
1992 30,000
2004 50,000.000
Source - National Agency of Telecommunications (Anatel)

Chris Schuepp
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