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Smartphones in the Market Today


In the past few years we've seen many significant technological advancements in the world. Technology has developed further in terms of availability, efficiency, and ease of use. Smartphones are one of the strongest markets in the economy. The term smartphone was introduced in the market, referring to a new class of mobile phones that provides a compilation of services ranging from communication, computing and mobile sectors including voice communication and messaging to personal information management applications and wireless communication capability [1]. A smartphone is equipped with more advanced computing abilities that includes the following features: An operating system which allows the phone to run applications with productivity, web access at higher speeds, QWERTY keyboard which is essentially laid out in the same form as a computer keyboard, messaging which supports multiple e-mail mediums as well as access to a number of instant messaging applications.

Smartphones that are owned today have been around since 2008 when Apple introduced the Smartphone in the mass consumer market, but the smartphone has actually been in the market since 1993 when IBM released The Simon. The difference between a smartphone user today and a smartphone user almost two decades ago, is that smartphones were mainly geared for work purposes and those kind of phones were not affordable for the everyday user. As mentioned before, IBM’s Simon was brought out to public during the early stages of smartphones which moreover known as the first phase. In 2003, the Blackberry was introduced to the public as well and included many features such as Email, Internet, Fax, Web browsing, and Camera. A few years later, a major breakthrough in the smartphone market occurred with the release of the Apple IPhone which marked the beginning of the second phase of the smartphone era. This was the first time ever that the industry introduced the smartphone to the general consumers market versus just corporate and enterprise. By the of 2007 Google had bought Android and revealed its Android OS, to compete with Apple’s iOS. The whole point of this was not only to emphasize the features that general consumers require but to also keep the cost at a more affordable price in order to attract a mass amount of consumers [1]. At this point, capabilities and features included email, social website integration, audio/video, internet access, chatting along with general features. The third phase of smartphones was mainly just to close the gap between corporate and general consumer. This last phase started in 2008 with the upgrades in mobile operating system and for the past nine years there have been several upgrades in the popular Apple iOS, Android and Blackberry OS [1]. The focus for companies has been to bring both enhanced operating systems and devices to cater the business world as well as regular everyday consumers.

The mass adoption of smartphones has flooded mainstream consumer markets on a global scale. Currently, about 90% of handset sales worldwide are for devices driven by Google’s Android and Apple’s IOS mobile OS’s [2]. According to Gartner, by 4Q15, 80.7% of the market share belonged to Android and by 4Q16, there was a 1% increase. Meanwhile, 17.7% of the market share belonged to iOS by 4Q15 but then had a 0.02% increase by 1Q16 making that 17.9% [3]. Between those two operating system platforms alone (Android and iOS), a whopping 99.6% of all smartphone sales were accounted by them. For lack of better phrasing, Android and iOS have created a duopoly out of the market and will continue to do so as current trends shows, making predictability of any new mobile OS releasing fairly simple. With each release of smartphones, which happens almost every year at this point, the capabilities and features just improve and keep on improving. General consumers with smartphones typically now have the ability to complete tasks that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Back in 2014, Gartner declared that smartphones would be the Internet access device of choice by 2018 [4]. An Ofcom report also found that in 2016, 16% of adults now only use smartphones to go online which was a 10% increase from 2015. With that being said, it has come to the point where the PC market is dying slowly because smartphones are inevitably replacing desktop and laptop PCs. According to PC World, Intel said it now expects the PC market to decline in the “high single digits” throughout all of 2016, rather than the mid-single drop it previously expected. Just in Q116 alone, the PC market dropped between 10 and 12 percent during the first quarter [4]. This The media features and other capabilities of a smartphone would also enable a consumer to choose their smartphone over a television set.

Smartphones are readily available to the general public anywhere where electronics are sold, whether that might a phone carrier retail store or a local wholesale department. So now they’re up for purchase, equipped with powerful specifications: could smartphones have found their peak? Consumers are always looking for the next new trend and with less and less features being added, this poses a question about the innovation of smartphones. Future expectations are that there is going to be less new additives to smartphones and more external factors that would persuade consumers. For instance, Apple has created a device known as the Apple Watch which provides consumers a method to connect their iPhones to a watch with a touchscreen and many other features almost parallel to the smartphone itself. This involves, telecommunication, instant messaging, media, and email. This is a potential market with the chance to take off but the key is to have richer features and functionality, or greater affordability. So far, Apple is dominating in the ‘smartwatch’ category but remains largely undefined, with strong potential for unexpected companies to carve out key niches [5]. Smartphone companies are also taking a look at how they can become the universal remote control in a consumer’s life. This would give smartphones the capability to unify and control a diverse range of technologies, such as smart appliances, home automation, car settings, TVs, and more. iOS came out with HomeKit which allows users to do just that and Google is developing what is going to be known as Brillo. Another ecosystem that would further the innovation of smartphones is commerce. Android’s Google Wallet and iOS’s Apple Pay both offer a feature that turns their smartphones into more or less a credit card. With this feature, consumers are able to pay by hovering their smartphones over a card-reader, making transactions times a lot smoother and convenient for both parties involved. Smartphones will also take over as a mobile platform for online banking, replacing the ATM, local bank branch and even online banking itself. Citigroup’s recent Global Perspectives & Solutions report anticipates a 30% decline in US banking jobs by 2025, because of mobile phones and automation [5]. Smartphones are also now ready to jump in the world of virtual reality. Virtual reality technology have started to make their way into the market such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift or the Sony Playstation VR platform. But now, smartphones are being tied to devices like these, serving as engines that run them. This includes Samsung’s Gear VR, LG’s 360 VR and Google Cardboard [5]. Goldman Sachs predicts that the virtual reality industry could reach $80 billion by 2025, and is likely to be a key focus area of mobile device manufacturers for the foreseeable future. Google is already making significant investments and at some point, Apple will join the game too [5]. The idea for smartphone companies to jump into the virtual reality is to undercut the already existing products in the market by keeping hardware prices low and making apps/games cheaper and readily accessible to the general consumer centric.

The smartphone market has been successful and thriving for many years and still calls for long-term success within the economy. The usage of smartphones by the consumers and continuous innovations over the past decade certainly demonstrates the impact these devices have. Consumers are slowly moving away from having regular phones to owning smartphones. Although smartphones might not have any new major specifications, there are several different innovations that will positively change the game drastically for smartphones. The market is expanding and will only continue to expand as consumer demand for new technology grows.

References [1] “Impact of Smartphones on Society.” (2013, March 2). Retrieved April 28, 2017, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236669025_Impact_of_Smartphone's_on_Society [2] “Smartphone Impact on Social Relationship Management.” (2014, October-December). Retrieved April 28, 2017, from http://ijar.org.in/stuff/issues/v1-i3(2)/v1-i3(2)-a031.pdf [3] “99.6% of new smartphones run Android or iOS.” (2017, February 16). Retrieved April 29, 2017, from https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/16/14634656/android-ios-market-share-blackberry-2016 [4] “Will a Smartphone Replace Your PC?”. (2016, April 24). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from http://www.govtech.com/blogs/lohrmann-on-cybersecurity/will-a-smartphone-replace-your-pc.html [5] “The Future of Smartphones Is Less About the Phone, More About the Ecosystem”. (2016, April 5). Retrieved April 30, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-rettinger/the-future-of-smartphones_b_9612964.html