chapter  2
17 Pages

The iPhone and Communication


Since its emergence in the late 1970s, the signifi cance of the mobile phone for communication has been widely debated. People have been fascinated about how the mobile phone has changed human communication, what kinds of new communication practices have emerged, and what exactly the cultural implications of this technology might be. Not only has the mobile phone become an extraordinarily ubiquitous and versatile communication device-an emblem of our “liquid modernity”1; since the turn of the twenty-fi rst century it has steadily moved center stage in shaping mediaunrivaled only by the internet (with which it is increasingly in complex symbiosis). The questions fi rst raised by the mobile phone in the 1980s and early to mid-1990s were those associated with the intriguing phenomenon of portable voice telephony-the emergence of a new, personal cultural technology, the way it confounded relationships between the private and public spheres and its distinctive take-up by particular groups in society, such as young people. With the phenomenon of text messaging, quickly followed by camera phones, mobile music and mobile games, the communication architecture of mobile devices became much more intricateits potential for diff erent kinds of communication all the richer. With the arrival of the iPhone in mid-2007, ushering in the era of the smartphone, there is a complex interplay unfolding: a layering of communication repertoires, a reshuffl ing of attributes and histories of old media and new concepts of the social function of mobiles-all challenging the adequacy of our theories of mobile communication.