4 billion

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“Analysts predict that the number of global mobile phone customers will double to four billion in five years.”

That’s from the New York Times. That’s remarkable (there are only 6.5 billion people in the world). That also sucks (note: employ proper British usage of the term, not the vulgar Wayne’s World edition–this blog is urbane, remember?). I like access to a cell phone, but the 24/7 availability is annoying.

Though not all the time. I love it when a client sits in my office, his cell phone rings, and he takes the call. My clock is ticking at an hourly rate. I love watching the more astute clients, who, after a minute, say, “I gotta call you back. I’m at the attorney’s. This is costing me money.” Some don’t even wait that long. They answer the call, immediately say “I’m at the attorney’s,” then hang up. I don’t hear enough to know whether they’re talking to their wife or mistress.

I’m also curious to see where all this cell phone goes when it comes to etiquette, especially the subtle stuff. Five years ago, it would’ve been outrageous to hang up on a person by simply saying “I’m at the attorney’s,” click. Today, it appears to be acceptable. Among people who use the cell phone regularly, a whole new sense of polite and rude is cropping up with regard to phone etiquette. There’s little doubt that the phone etiquette will spill over into non-cell phone etiquette, possibly in the form of a willingness to interrupt and be interrupted. We’ll see. It’ll be an interesting transformation to watch.