CATCH up with the latest technology gadgets to suit the current lifestyle or risk being left behind, moaning over the missed opportunity.
Over the past two decades, mobile phones and various technology gadgets have advanced tremendously. They used to be bulky and heavy, but now the devices could fit into any pocket.
In yesteryears, the youngsters were engrossed with Sony Walkman portable cassette players to listen to music, cameras, video cassette recorders, and electronic organisers to note down important things and dates.
Now, all these things are done at the fingertips using just a single gadget.
Having multiple functions compacted into one device has made life so much easier today with the elevation of technology, especially the Internet.
Regardless what people do, most of them will be on their smartphones be it when driving, taking the escalator or even going to the toilet.
Despite claiming being locked in feeble economic conditions, the younger generation tends to pick a high-end mobile device on the trend, and being overly conscious on its brand, camera megapixels, internal memory storage and random-access memory (RAM).
While lamenting on the cost of living, they hardly questioned the rising cost of their lifestyle.
To catch up in mobile the fast-moving mobile technology race, telecommunication companies (telcos) have introduced various call plans, inclusive of huge Internet data to ensure their pie of the market share remains strong.
If one were to look back to 1995, the Internet connection used to be dial-ups, operated by Jaring, a network run by the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronics System (Mimos).
The Internet could only be connected to one computer and was linked to the phone line. If someone talks on the phone, the Internet connection went kaput.
After 2000, people could still use the phone and the internet simultaneously; even though the speed level was nowhere near to what we have today, and cyber cafés were packed with students and youngsters, either doing their homework, playing games or chatting.
Before Facebook, social media platform was dominated by mIRC, Yahoo Chat, Friendster and MySpace, but as the new ones evolved, those platforms were left behind.
“I remember using mIRC to find new friends and at the same time, using Telekom’s Ring Ring prepaid card at public phones, as well as fixed lines at home to chat.
“I would rather save my pocket money and use it to buy prepaid card to avoid being scolded by my parents due to expensive phone bills back then,” Fadzilah Mahmud, 35, told Bernama.
Ring Ring card was a prepaid telephone service that used Telekom fixed line but was discontinued in June 2015.
Today, Malaysia has about 10 telcos and Internet providers to cater to the growing numbers of Internet subscribers.
According to the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission’s Internet Users Survey 2017, 89.4% of Internet users had accessed the web through mobile devices with 97.3% of the respondents saying that that they used it mainly to access the social media.
So, how does the gadgets and technology advancement change our daily lives?
As gadgets keep getting smarter, they are now being built to fit in everything; from helping us locate a place, to tracking our fitness, paying our bills and rent, booking a movie ticket, planning a vacation, shopping and many others, just by clicking on the smartphone.
It also now comes with voice, finger and face recognition as the artificial intelligent advances, where a phone can be locked and unlocked, send a text, translate voices and text from any language and even identify places and items via graphics.
Take the financial sector for an example. Mobile banking through applications has surged drastically over the years.
According to Bank Negara Malaysia’s statistics, as at November 2017, Internet banking and mobile banking subscribers stood at 25.2 million and 11.26 million, respectively compared with only 2.6 million and 127,600, respectively in 2005.
For mobile banking, electronic payments accounted for 100.5 million in volume of transactions valued at RM5.12 billion against 400,000 in volume worth RM4.5 million in the corresponding period.
The central bank’s statistics in December last year also revealed that most Malaysians were likely to carry both a debit card and mobile phones, and currently, there were about 45.4 million debit cards and 42.8 million mobile phone subscriptions.
This significantly shows that from individuals to businesses, everyone is adapting towards digitalisation.
Currently, Quick Response or QR codes and mobile wallets are the in-thing for the financial sector and people do not have to go to banks to perform transactions anymore.
From the business world perspective, the Internet has crumbled the wall that once put a limitation to businesses where they were confined in certain parts of the world and costing a huge chunk of money to trade overseas.
In this 21st century, everything is borderless. But at the same time, businesses must make a choice; to either embrace technology or stick to the traditional way.
For example, nowadays people prefer to shop online from buying washing machines to jewellery; as most of the times, the items are relatively cheaper compared to the ones in physical stores.
Even though the items will reach online shoppers a few days later, they do not mind waiting.
The changing shopping trend has put businesses that do not have online sites in a tough spot.
The need for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to embrace digitalisation have been emphasised by various ministries and business associations, but to date, the numbers are still relatively low.
National ICT Association of Malaysia e-Commerce Chapter Chair Ganesh Kumar Bangah said only between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of SMEs had embraced digitalisation.
“The SMEs are still left far behind in the digital business world despite the presence of various e-commerce platforms,” he was reported as saying.
Malaysia has about 700,000 SMEs and Ganesh hopes that by 2020, 50% of them will make use of the platforms available in line with the government’s aspiration. — Bernama