Have you ever went out and realized that you left your smartphone at home? You may feel panicked, maybe even a separation anxiety though you’ve only gone an hour without your phones. These reactions are common, and clear evidence that phones have taken over our lives.
Smartphones have secured a strong place in our lives. We take them everywhere with us, 24/7–even to bed. Smartphones are already an extension of us, an important limb to our body. If phones are taken away from us even for a day, we feel naked, like we can’t function as well without it.
In the workplace, on dates, on parties, even during religious meetings, we bring our phones with us. ‘Mind if I take this?’ is a common phrase we hear everywhere. It seems like now, calls can’t wait until later. Are smartphones merely a fad? Or will it influence humankind’s way of living and communicating?
Analyzing the Numbers
Take a look at today’s teenagers: they sit in front of the TV, texting with their friends or posting a status update on Facebook with their smart phone. During commercials, they pass time by playing Angry Birds on their iPad. This is the life of today’s teenagers. It’s found that the age group consumes 10.5 hours of media in a day, according to Credit Suisse. If this research is really true, the statistics can be a bit worrying.
A telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, from the UK did research about smartphone usage:
- 37% adults and 60% teenagers admit to being addicted to smartphones.
- 51% adults and 65% teenagers say they use their smartphones to socialize with others.
- Many smartphone users use their phones during mealtimes, in bed, and even in the bathroom.
- 58% males own a smartphone, compared to 42% females.
- Majority of adults prefer the Apple iPhone, while majority of teenagers prefer the BlackBerry.
Around the world, smartphones now represent 24% of all mobile phone sold around the world, which is up from 15% last year. In the next year, we could expect the numbers to go up to 50% and in a few years, every phone will be a smartphone.
Addiction to smartphones and the internet isn’t uncommon. There are even clinics for internet addicts 0n the other side of the world, South Korea. What is the root of our new found dependability on a tiny gadget?
How the iPhone Revolutionized Smartphones
Phones, for more or less a decade, have been the chosen method of communication. But now, their scope has increased by leaps and bounds, thanks to the iPhone. Smartphones now allow us to stay connected to the internet 24/7, we can connect through social networking sites and blogs wherever and whenever. This phenomenon is fairly new, having started 4 years ago with the introduction of the first iPhone.
The iPhone 4 is currently the bestselling smartphone in the market, but few people know how the iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry. It has changed our behavior. We no longer need a calculator to do our math–the iPhone can do that for you. We don’t need the weatherman for our weather forecasts–iPhone does a better job at that.
The App Store, particularly, has been a game changer in the industry. This feature allows users to get free or paid applications for gaming, productivity, literature, music, entertainment and more. Users have the option to update their software and applications, so the iPhone doesn’t get obsolete very fast. Other mobile companies such as Google, Microsoft and Palm have their own App Store versions to emulate the success found by Apple.
The Apple iPhone is quite a unique case such that it has kept its selling price constant since its first release in June 2007. Apple has sold more than 100 million iPhone’s in the past four years. Growth in other countries such as China has reached to 600%.
Apple seems very intent on destroying the PC for good, and is so far doing a great job. The Cloud allows you to keep all your data on the internet, to be readily available for your PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc. There will come a time when you no longer need those bulky hard drives, as Apple’s iCloud makes local storage less important.
Will Smartphones Replace the PC?
In a few years’ time, many of the gadgets will be obsolete because of the smartphone: the calculator, telephone, voice recorder, alarm clock, video camera and even the flashlight. In a few years time it may also replace the PC.
There are already apps for anything and everything you need. Need help with your diet? There’s an app for that. Need to make graphs and tables? Yup, they have it. To-do lists for your daily tasks? Of course. As Apple always says: ‘I have an app for that!’
There are a few weaknesses with smartphones, however. For one, they cannot compare with the PC when it comes to gaming. Limited storage equals limited features, and thus they lose when it comes to hardcore gaming, photo manipulation, 3D animation, video editing, and such. So while smartphones rule in convenience and instant connectivity, they cannot yet compete with PC’s extensive gaming, editing, and others.
Smartphones can do the most necessary tasks that you can do with your PC. It can connect to the internet, use social networking sites, and organize our lives. Thus they’re fast replacing the PC, which used to be the most irreplaceable piece of technology in our lives. But now we see that smartphones are now quickly catching up. PCs have always sold more than smartphones. At the start of 2010, 85 million computers were sold as compared to 55 million smartphones. Many analysts predict that a crossover will happen by 2012–instead, by the end of 2010, 94 million PCs as compared to 100 million smartphones. Where PC sales have gone stagnant, smartphones continue to grow rapidly in sales. Smartphones have come a long way, and many believe that this trend won’t ever reverse.
Despite the growth of smartphones, manufacturers put little emphasis on security. Teenagers make up the largest demographic of smartphone users, and have little concern about hackers and identity thieves. There are still some features that need to be improved (battery life, most specifically). Maybe in the future we can see features to make the smartphone more powerful such as solar battery charging, built-in projectors, 3D imaging, even fingerprint scanners for online buying.
Smartphones are still a fairly young technology with plenty of room to grow. In a few years time, they could be obsolete–or they could make us even more dependent on them than before. For now, it’s a waiting game, and nothing is ever predictable in this world. Right now smartphones are in and PCs are out–a trend that might or might not change. Overall, smartphones are a huge contender in becoming the most influential invention of the decade; and they show no signs of slowing down.
Rachel Arandilla is a curious subject -- she appreciates things that are quirky & clever. She loves spontaneity and adventure. She is a carefree soul, has a deep love for travel, culture and languages. And she's beginning to wonder she keeps on referring to herself in third person perspective.