Cell phones have gained considerable popularity in the world. It is not surprising that it is the one gadget that accompanies more and more people. While many people still use cell phones as originally designed for making and receiving calls, a greater segment of society is beginning to see it as an instrument for productivity. For this reason, cell phones are constantly evolving to meet the new demands of society
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 products are an- Internet-connected multimedia devices with a multi-touch screen or a sliding keyboard. The phones may function as a camera phone, portable media player, GPS navigator, and an internet client: with text messaging, email, web browsing and local Wi-Fi connectivity.
Interestingly, the rise in sales of smartphones will come at the expense of declining cell phone sales, currently 90% of the market. The bourgeoning of the smartphone market is much about the new technology as it is about the consumer. The smartphone- basically a pocket computer with cell phone capability-allows people to carry information and to access it everywhere they go. 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. Rather, more and more people are opening up their wallets to 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. These new additions will certainly help to fuel the popularity and growth of the smartphone industry.
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 example, the RIM BlackBerry initially focused on enterprise/corporate customer email. 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 wave is continuing to gain momentum, and although sales are rising fast, smart phone sales still account for only 25% of the total cell phone shipments this year in the US. 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. Their data and calling service plans are typically up to a hundred dollars per month. One of the keys to lowering prices in the long-term is the breeding of vigorous competition among the brands. But considering that the market for smartphones is large, new entrants may find it expedient to identify a niche in the market rather than compete with the more established 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.