My Ericsson T39 cell phone -- which still allows me to talk to anybody with a phone no matter where I am on at least three continents -- seems very old fashioned now. No color screen, no camera, no PDA or MP3 or JPG.
But it still has something over the new-fangled models: it looks like a Communicator.
I grew up watching Star Trek. Not Next Gen or Deep Space 9 or Voyager or Enterprise, but the real, uh, McCoy. So I've had a hard time parting with a phone that sort of makes me feel like Captain Kirk.
But now, it might be time to upgrade ... to Star Trek the Next Generation. This new lapel phone, when it comes into use outside of hospitals, could grab me. It's about wi-fi, voice-rec, "Say my name say my name" ... and instantly you're in contact. And feeling like, say, Captains Picard or Janeway instead.
Yes, I know, it's not a major new innovation, not so disruptive, not so very world-changing. I just think it's cool. And no, I don't watch Star Trek anymore.
Maybe the best way to guide the develoment of new, innovative, disruptive, world-changing stuff is to write science fiction.
People upgrade their electronic toys almost every year for no significant benefit. What a waste! How can we make people use their old mobile phones longer? That would be truly Worldchanging.
Paul - I think you're on to something. :)
Tatu - I think the problem you are seeing is marketing. Marketing has reached a point where it not only tells you about a product that fills a need - sometimes it creates a 'false need'.
I gave up cell phones last year because I presently don't need one. To make matters worse, I hate telephones. A personal problem, perhaps...
The frequent-update cycle isn't entirely the fault of the users. In the US, at least, the various competing mobile providers often use different network protocols (CDMA, TDMA, GSM, etc.) and even different network frequencies for the same protocol (GSM 1800 vs GSM 1900, or something like that). It's all too often the case that if you change your mobile provider, you have to change phones.