Can't Buy My Cell Phone Freedom

What would it take for you give up your cell phone? $100? $1,000? $1 million?

According to a recent Mobile Life survey of 1,256 British cell phone users, one-third of respondents would pass on a whopping $2 million (or 1 million pounds) in favor of their cell phones, and 16 percent said that price was no object when it came to keeping their beloved electronic companion.

"As strange as it may sound, I'm not surprised, actually," said Kent German, senior editor at CNet.com, who specializes in cell phones. "They've become such a part of our culture."

The 1,256-person survey was unveiled on June 25 by the Carphone Warehouse as the latest in its attempt to quantify the impact of mobile phones on daily life through its ongoing research project, Mobile Life.

In a complimentary study, an additional 24 participants gave up their mobile phones for one week, kept a video diary and, at the end of the week, answered a series of survey questions to see just how dependent they are on their mobile phones.

The results of that study complimented those of the 1,256-person survey which suggested 76 percent of people believe it is a "social requirement" to own a mobile phone. And 85 percent of people believe that having a mobile phone is "vital to maintaining their quality of life."

Perhaps most surprising, the survey found that a majority of 16- to 24-year-olds would rather give up tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate or sex rather than live without their cell phone for a month.

"At first, I was kind of shocked," Gizmodo.com associate editor Mark Wilson said. "Then I started thinking about it. I don't even remember phone numbers anymore.

"Going without your cell phone isn't just going without making a call on the road, either — it's checking your e-mail and Web sites, too."

Wilson — who said he wouldn't give up his own cell phone unless he was given enough money to buy his own private island — was curious as to whether Gizmodo readers were as attached to their mobile phones as the Brits, and conducted his own vote on the site.

So far, the Mobile Life survey has been fiercely contradicted by nearly 4,000 Gizmodo readers, of whom 96.8 percent say they would happily give up their cell phones and take the money and run.

German believes that the survey may be exaggerated since it took place in the United Kingdom where "the public seems a little more concentrated."

When presented with the proposition himself, however, German wavers.

"If I was actually presented with a check," said German, hesitatingly, "I guess I could do it. But I'd have a hard time."

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