Business Communication

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21st Century Dilemma: Is Simpler Better?

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius- and a lot courage - to move in the opposite direction” Ernst Friedrich Schumaker

Are you one of those people who are tired of gadget after gadget showing up on the market promising mind boggling features when you just want to communicate messages? Do you really think the newest cell phone on the market sends messages more reliably, has better reception or a much battery life? A cell phone or a “smart phone”, as it is now known as, is of little use if it does not work during rush hours or does not get signal coverage in remote areas. Don't you want something which is simple, compact, battery efficient and can send and receive messages reliably above all? If your answer to the above questions is a yes, you are in the market for a pager.

“Paging systems began to develop in the early 1930s” (Gibson, 1997, p.34). Looking at the history of pagers, this term was first used in 1959 for a radio communications product, a slightly different technology than that we know of today. But by 1974, Motorola Company launched the first successful consumer pager, Pageboy. Even though it had no storage ability, had limited range, it gained popularity due to its portability and ability to transmit instant messages, albeit one way. As statistics show “By 1980 there were 3.2 million pager users worldwide” (Bellis, n.d.).With the passage of time this technology modified into being capable of usage within wide range areas and therefore, the number of pager users climbed up; “By 1994, there were over 61 million pagers in use and pagers became very popular for personal use” (Bellis, n.d.).

Consequently, the rapidly increasing popularity of pagers for casual communication persuaded companies to develop innovative products. Motorola invented the “world’s first two-way pager in 1995” (“Motorola History”, 2008). This device allowed users to receive text messages and emails. In 2001, Research in Motion also introduced their PDA look alike two-way pager, Blackberry RIM 957 which people described as “a convenient way to receive and send pages and email wirelessly…” (Brown, 2001). Although the pager industry was growing from strength to strength, pagers faced a tough competition with the introduction of improved cell phone features. Pagers might have had an edge for being more portable but cell phones were also catching up.

Accordingly, some pager companies spent more resources into developing cellular phones and somewhat neglected pagers. This all culminated to the point where pagers were largely thought of being replaced by cell phones, as Miguel Pellon, Vice President of Motorola’s wireless division, explained a news caster in 2001, “Sales of our traditional one-way and two-way products are migrating to demand for two-way messaging for use on cellular networks with integrated product offerings and increased functionality” (Palenchar, 2001). This was one of the biggest tests for the survival of pagers and it could have limited their status to devices that held an evolutionary link in the advent of the cell phone. But pagers are not obsolete, although it makes you wonder why?

On the contrary, today, even after massive growth of technology, there are a number of distinct uses of the good old pagers. People may still think of pagers as just a beeping device for one-way message transmission. But the alphanumeric pagers today are just as good as a cell phone for sending e-mails, news reports and browsing a couple of websites. Economically they are more affordable than most of the cell phones. With pagers you can buy nationwide messaging packages whereas cell phones generally have roaming charges. Some of the small businesses, that need to provide employees communication tools, can benefit financially by choosing the pagers as their mean of communication.

Moreover, in spite of the vast...
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