But phones are no longer just used to make calls. Japan's 90 million cellphone owners also use their machine's modern technology and tiny screens (half the size of a business card) to play video games, send e-mails, read news, download music, store photos and surf the Internet. Since April, they've been able to use their cellphones to watch TV.
Following several months of test broadcasts, digital TV broadcasts for cellphones with special receivers began in Japan's major cities. The special cellphones are hard to find because only a small number were put on sale. The excitement surrounding mobile TV means that the limited number of handsets quickly sold out.
Misogo Kado, a 37-year-old software designer from Yokohama, near Tokyo, bought one of the new cellphones earlier this month.
He is a big fan of the new technology. "You know how every cellphone now comes with a digital camera? In the same way, this is going to become a standard feature," Kado said of the TV service. "It's not something you have to pay for. If you're buying a cellphone, you might as well get one with it."
While the service is new for Japan, it is not the world's first. South Korea and Britain have made TV available to their cellphone customers with the use of slightly different technology. The new service in Japan, however, is free.
Not only that, it uses broadcasting airwaves instead of an Internet connection. The images are sent through the air by TV towers, not satellites.
This terrestrial digital broadcast system means that more people will be able to use the service. Imagine what our phones will be able to do in another 130 years'time!
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