The author begins with a scenario in which he is meeting friends for dinner. While waiting on a cab, he checks the location of the restaurant to instruct the driver, peruses the menu, sends messages to his companions to let him know when he'll arrive. There's a side conversation about the effects of technology - one person feels people are becoming more antisocial and self-absorbed, another who feels they are becoming more connected. Some notion of the way technology in general has impacted civilization - one asserts that the Amish have happier and more fulfilling lives, another disagrees.

Regardless of sentiments, mobile technology and the iPhone in particular seem almost "magical" in the way that they provide information to a person, anywhere and any time, and enables people to be constantly in touch with one another, and that it has a real impact on actual behavior of people in real time.

However, it is conceded that adopting these capabilities means giving up other things. A person who wishes to be constantly connected necessarily loses his ability to command his own time - others can intrude upon him anywhere, anytime. A person who avails himself of a networked service necessarily makes his behavior and data available to those who provide that service - and has sacrificed some measure of privacy for the convenience.

Civil rights laws have not kept up: we are generally safeguarded against intrusion into the privacy of our homes, and police must obtain a warrant to enter our private spaces and rifle through our files, or to wiretap land-line phones - but such protections are not in place, such that our communications on mobile devices are subject to monitoring, and the police may "snatch" the device and peruse personal data without due process of law. (EN: I'd say that the existing law provides adequate protection, but is not equally applied - but worse, laws have been passed in the name of public security that relieve law enforcement of the need to exercise due process of law for data files and wireless communication.)

There is some concern over Apple's "monopoly" of the smartphone industry, much in the way that there was concern about Microsoft's monopoly of software. (EN: The author continues along the same lines, expressing concern that the control Apple asserts represent a threat to the freedom of users - but it's a bit silly, given that the Microsoft example basically disqualifies the argument before it's made: there are competitors, though they presently do not have much market share, and it seems inherently self-contradictory to suggest that a product that provides capabilities the consumer didn't previously have is restrictive on the basis that it doesn't do more for them than it presently does.)

But ultimately, it is clear that the smartphone is not a passing fad, but has gained acceptance, and merits further consideration, as smartphone ownership is likely on a path to eventual ubiquity.

(EN: I've done some digging, and much of it is hype. Some sources predict that 50% of Americans will have a smartphone by the end of 2011 - others note that only about a third of Americans have mobile phones at all, and that less than a quarter of them have smart phones, and concede that there is no accounting for the overlap - it is quite common for a single person to have one work-issued device and a second device for personal use, so market penetration of mobile may be less than 20% of the population, and smart phones less than 5%. Meanwhile, usage statistics indicate that only about 60% of smart phone users send text messages, 30% have used the browser on their device, and 26% downloaded apps - not used just downloaded. In all, I don't dispute that the devices are gaining popularity and may eventually become ubiquitous, but estimations of their adoption and rate of growth is terribly exaggerated.