6:23 a.m. My phone is playing ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ by The Beatles. This rising sun brings the last day of my internship at Qualcomm, and the calendar notice on my phone confirms this fact that I would much rather were fiction. 6:36 a.m. Showered, dressed, and making breakfast, phone in hand. I check my emails—somehow I managed to sleep through my phone chirping “new message” during the night—and scroll through Facebook and Twitter. Nothing too exciting seems to have happened overnight, but I have yet to check my work email. My phone’s daily weather alert says it will be warm and sunny again today, so I leave my blazer at home.
In the first twenty minutes that I have been awake, my phone has spent more time in my hand than not. The majority of my generation has the same habit. According to the recently-released TIME Mobility Poll conducted in cooperation with Qualcomm, sixty-six percent of mobile phone owners in the world between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine check their phones at least once every thirty minutes.
A mobile phone provides access to more possibilities than any other item in my purse or pockets. Nearly half of my generation seems to agree with me in this belief, as forty-nine percent of them would more willingly leave their wallet at home than leave their phone. A mobile phone gives its owner the power to call and ask a roommate or family member to bring the wallet to them later in the day, or to text a friend and ask him/her to cover for lunch today, in exchange for lunch tomorrow (if said wallet-forgetter has not yet downloaded a mobile payment app).
The poll revealed that the mobile wave reaches beyond the 20-something year old students and young professionals. Parents have also become mobile advocates, preparing the next generation of children for a digital world. Seventy percent of all surveyed parents using mobile devices believe that the benefits of their children learning about technology from a young age outweigh the potential for distraction from studies and other responsibilities.
I have watched as, over the past five years, the transformative, progressive potential of wireless technology has made it a fundamental part of life. Wireless technology creates a constant sense of interconnectedness and enables relationships and knowledge-seeking. These intangibles are integral to human nature, so much so that I have sacrificed food and sleep to have more time to use my phone.
It was not until my arrival at Qualcomm, however, that I understood the power of wireless technology on a global scale. There is nothing to suggest that the wireless trend will slow. Rather, mobile integration will only grow stronger. It is projected that the number of devices connected to mobile phone networks will overtake the number of people on Earth by at least one billion by 2017. This proliferation makes the cell phone the most pervasive technology ever invented.
The combination of wireless technology’s global penetration and its emphatic embrace on the part of the world’s youth will create a future of opportunities across industries, continents and generations limited only by our imaginations.