The Old Man and the 3G

Who says that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks or that older people can’t adapt and change? Not me, or at least not any longer. This afternoon, I got the most amazing shock from my father-in-law, who turned 88 in December. He wants to make some changes, by going all 3G wireless.

A few months back, my father-in-law bought a Sprint modem for one of his sons, who no longer uses it. The account is still active, and I had been searching for someone to take over it so there would be no early termination fee. My father-in-law has decided to use the Sprint modem as his primary Internet access device. He’ll cancel Cox cable, Internet and phone services.

So that means no more landline for pops, who plans to port the number to his T-Mobile cell phone; that he’d like to upgrade—from a candybar Nokia phone to something with a keyboard. Based on our discussion about hard versus soft keyboard options, he will consider either my wife’s old T-Mobile MyTouch or my Nexus One (I’m switching to iPhone 4). He seems eager about having an Internet-capable phone and delighted at the idea of using a touchscreen.

Quite suddenly, he will be cutting edge mobile. Earlier today, at Betanews, I wrote about PEW Internet’s new report: “Mobile Access 2010.” The minority of Americans are cellular-only Internet users, although the percentage is highest among 18-29 year olds (19 percent). In a few days, my father-in-law will join their ranks, by cutting all the wires and going 3G Internet for laptop and cell phone. If he chooses the Nexus One, as I expect, he’ll be using a smartphone running the latest version of Android (2.2). It’s a mobile OS many much younger smartphone owners would like to be using.

Another shocker: He asked about ebooks, too. It’s good that Kindle for Android is now available. I showed him the ebook I’ve been reading on iPhone 4, and now he’s game for yet another change.

My father-in-law awoke at 4 a.m. with this plan. I didn’t influence him and wouldn’t have (shame on me), assuming so much change would rattle his routine. Well, hell, what do I know?

Update: He decided on iPhone 4. I’ve put in a reservation at the local Apple Store; the handset should be available in a couple of weeks.

Editor’s Note: This post was moved to from on Sept. 27, 2010.

Do you have a gadget story that you’d like told? Please email Joe Wilcox: joewilcox at gmail dot com.