Did you ever fret about Bluejacking? Or worry that your new phone had too few megapixels? Tim Green reflects on the time we wasted when mobile was young…

If getting older teaches you anything, it’s that nothing lasts forever.

So, you’re worrying about something terrible like root canal treatment. Or something much worse, like having to moderate an hour long panel session on PSD2 when there are only five people in the audience.

Well, just remember that – in what seems like the blink of an eye – the thing you dread will be a fading memory. Or even better, an amusing anecdote (“let me tell you about that hilarious root canal I had back in 2011…”)

   How will people react when they start receiving dozens of anonymous Bluetooth messages? We’ll never know, because they never were

Of course, this cuts both ways. If you err towards the miserable (perhaps you’re a middle aged Brit from Birmingham), you can view good times through this lens too.

Yes, your children’s innocent laughter might seem nice now, but it won’t last forever so why encourage them? I’m waffling. The point is, mulling on this phenomenon made me think about all the fretting I’ve seen in mobile over the last decade.

With hindsight, most of it was so pointless. Here are my top 10 things we used to worry about and needn’t have. (there’s a catchy headline)

1. DRM

When the iPod was launched, the music labels were terrified we’d all steal tracks and copy them endlessly. They insisted Apple wrap songs in DRM (digital rights management) to prevent this. Steve Jobs hated it. In 2007, he published an open letter rubbishing the practice. By 2009, the labels had caved and iTunes tracks all went to MP3. Guess what, people still bought music. Now, ironically, DRM is back thanks to streaming…

2. Mobile search

There needs to be a uniquely mobile way to do search. It’s why we need Jumptap and Medio and loads more startups. Turns out we were fine with Google.

3. Running out of battery

Will anyone buy a smartphone when the battery only lasts a day? Good question. The answer? Everyone will buy a smartphone and they’ll charge it every day.

4. Data usage

Remember ‘sender pays’? This was the idea that data was so expensive content providers should pay the data costs of files sent to users. The MEF itself was very engaged with the concept. All ancient history now. Of course, data is still pretty pricey for many people. But for those of us in mature markets, it’s all but unlimited.

5. MMS

Here’s how old picture messaging is: Vodafone advertised it by showing David Beckham sending MMS messages to Gary Neville from his ‘new’ club Real Madrid. MMS didn’t work back then, and it doesn’t now. But we have WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat etc so who cares?

6. Pixels

Getting a new phone? Thinking about how many megapixels the camera has? No, of course you’re not – not when virtually every camera is already awesome.

7. Physical keyboards

Till around 2010, we assumed there would always be a market for phones with buttons. Not everyone wants a touchscreen, right? Wrong. Though if you fancy a nostalgia trip, you can have a Nokia E-series for a few quid on eBay.

8. Bluejacking

How will people react when they start receiving dozens of anonymous Bluetooth messages? We’ll never know, because they never were.

tim-greenTim Green

Features Editor

MEF Minute

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9. Mobile TV

Given that we ‘must’ have terrestrial TV on our phones, which format is best? DVB-H or DMB? How about MediaFLO or maybe ISDB-T? None. Data trumped the airwaves, and the winning formats were YouTube and Netflix.

10. Mobile-only social networking

Mobile is different from desktop, right? No good merely porting MySpace over to the small screen. No, we must have uniquely mobile sites like FunkySexyCool or Peperonity or Mocospace. Or so we thought. Enter Facebook.

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