April 28, 2009:
The Chinese security forces, along with most adult Chinese, are very enthusiastic about cell phones. So much so, that in many parts of China, police units (some specialized, some just the force for a town or county) equip all, or most, of the police with smart phones. Some of these smart phones are designed and built specifically for police and military use. One such, recently introduced, phone is called the QiGi AK007. The James Bond humor aside, it's a four ounce device with many iPhone characteristics. This includes a 2.8 inch, 320x240 pixel touch screen. There's a trackball and four calling keys. The device has 128MB of RAM and 256MB of flash memory. The phone supports four band GSM, WiFi, and Bluetooth. GPS is built in, along with a 2 megapixel camera. The battery provides 200 minutes of talk time, and 180 hours of standby. Windows Mobile 6.2 software is used. Powered by a 624 MHz processor, it can use special software for an unlimited variety of unique police functions. The case is clearly marked as a police phone, and is designed to withstand more shock, and moisture than your usual cell phone. Price was not given, because this is negotiated with each police organization making a bulk purchase (and sometimes requesting additional features.)
China is the largest cell phone market on the planet. There are now over 600 million cell phone customers (in a country with a population of 1.3 billion). The government sees cell phones as a bigger threat to its power than the Internet. Cell phone use has doubled in the past four years, and more than doubled in the five years before that. Most users have texting service. The text messages enable the population to mobilize without government supervision. Text messaging allows Chinese to share information without government supervision. Currently, cell phone users send over 50 billion text messages a month.
The government is particularly worried about losing control of information. Typically, whenever there is a disaster (that would, as most do, embarrass the government), it's no longer possible to control the news. With cell service available in every part of the country, there is no way the government can control the story as it could before cell phones became so ubiquitous.
Another cell phone worry is the vulnerability of the system to attack via electronic warfare, or the Internet. But China's booming economy demanded cell phones, which first appeared only two decades ago. China thought cell phone technology could be controlled, but that proved not to be the case. But now it is finding that the military and security forces are much more effective because of cell phones. This is particularly true with cell phones, which military and police commanders are particularly fond of.