Cell phones have certainly come a long way. It is one device that has gained considerable worldwide acceptance since it was first launched in 1983. Cell phones are no longer just seen as status symbols or simply as instruments of communication, but as powerful new tools that enable people to work outside the office.
Cell phones have over the years evolved into minicomputers or smartphones. For example, in 2008 for which data was available, out of the 1 billion camera phones shipped, smartphones which currently represent the high-end of the cell phone market, made up about 10% of the market or about 100 million units. Current smartphone brands on the market include BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm, Nokia and Samsung. These smartphones are multimedia devices that can be connected to the Internet, and have a multi-touch screen or a sliding keyboard. Smartphones are designed to function as a camera phone, portable media player, and with internet connectability: with text messaging, email, web browsing and local Wi-Fi connectivity.
Of interest, it must be noted that the increase in smartphone sales will come at the expense of cell phones currently cornering 90% of the market. The rapid growth of the market for smartphone has everything to do with the technology as it has to do with the consumer. The smartphone which is essentially a pocket computer enables its users to carry and access their information willy nilly. Just as portable lap top computers permitted desk-top users freedom of mobility, the smartphone allows its users the function of a desk-top PC with the portability of a laptop, and the utility of a cell phone.
It is to be expected that in every economic down turn people will shy away from luxury consumer spending such as the purchase of a smartphone. Instead, many people are shelling out money to buy smartphones. To be sure, the sales of iPhones, Blackberrys and other smartphone models are rising rapidly. It is estimated that smartphones will grow by 25% this year alone. Other new models have either come on the market or are expected to be launched during the course of this year. The launching of newer smartphone brands will help to further popularize these devices and fuel their growth.
For a growing segment of the population, the social expectation is that one must stay connected and be reachable almost instantly by voice or email. The smartphone gives people that dual ability to stay connected, and therefore they can justify the cost of buying a smartphone. Smartphones are also seen as a status symbol. Just as it became socially unacceptable in the late 1990s not to have an email address, it will become increasingly unforgivable in the next several years not to communicate via smartphone.
The demand for smartphones can be attributed to the fact that they are perceived as being tools to enhance productivity in a society which is constantly on the move. Indeed smartphones were introduced to address a given market segment. For instance, the Blackberry smartphone when intially launched focused on the clientele in the corporate world. Interestingly, it was the introduction of less business-oriented phones first by Blackberry that scored a hit with the general public and led to the widespread use of Blackberry which doubled its customer base from last year to 25 million. The smartphone growth has gathered momentum, but sales still account for only 25% of total cell phone shipments in the USA indicating that smartphones still have ways to go. However, the launching of new smartphones together with software offerings from companies such as RIM , Nokia, Apple, Microsoft, Google and others this year, smartphones will continue to make considerable inroads into the cell phone market.
Currently, smartphones are not cheap by any long shot. The handsets even with discounts from the wireless carriers typically cost a few hundred dollars, with the high-end going for several hundreds of dollars. The charges for their data and calling plans are usually in a range of a hundred dollars monthly. One critical ingredient to low prices in the smartphone market place is the presence of vibrant competition among the various makers of smartphones. But if one considers that the market for smartphones is a large one, then new entrants to the market will seek to corner part of the market instead of competing with existing smartphone brands. However, the best avenue to making smart phones affordable to consumers is through innovation in smartphone technology that allows users to call and to connect to the internet no matter where they are at very reasonable cost.
It cannot be denied that even regular cell phones are getting smarter, and it’s only a matter of time before all cell phones have the advanced levels of functionality associated with today’s smartphones.
Dr. Valerian Nakaar is an accomplished scientist and an expert in technology. He runs the popular blog for the elite consumer. Want to learn more about smartphones and other cutting edge technologies? Go to => http://www.eliteconsumerhub.com
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