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Research provided to us by Orange supposedly shows the great new trend of “mobification” is spreading to the UK: apparently from the Far East.

A release from Orange helpfully informs us that more than two million mobile phone users between 16 and 18 have succumbed to this latest trend; a massive 86.4 per cent of the age group. The release goes on to talk about youths painting their handsets or hanging charms from the lanyard, before admitting that the vast majority of “mobifications” (over 65 per cent) actually consist of changing the ringtone. Quite why changing a ringtone just became “the latest craze amongst Britain’s youth” is not explained, and the supplied photographs show youths painting the screens of their cell phones with glitter paint rather than downloading tones and/or graphics from the web.

If one disregards the headline figures, and the lexical liberties, there is indeed a real trend here. Anyone who has travelled to Japan can’t help but notice their passion for hanging charms off their handsets, and every Nokia handset has a lanyard for just that reason.

Many suppliers have tried to sell the concept in Europe, but with minimal success despite exhaustive promotion. It has been suggested that the current generation of European youth are too conformist to want to distinguish themselves; it is more important to fit in than to express individuality, but between the fluff the survey from Orange does suggest that hundreds of thousands of young people are using stickers and charms to stand out from the crowd, belying that suggestion.

Orange has set up a site to promote, judge, and reward, phone modifications, as well as selling ringtones and graphics to the less courageous, or artistically inclined. We wish them well, and look forward to seeing the winning modifications, but we’ll put “mobification” into room 101: already home to “lappy” and “mobe”.®

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