Predictions abound that smartphones are dominating the world – whether it’s tech vlogger Lamarr Wilson claiming that they will “eat our children and wives” or (on a more serious note) research firm IHS forecasting that smartphones will account for half the mobile phone market by 2013.
There is little doubt that smartphones are becoming more ubiquitous as the price barrier is lowered, mass manufacturing becomes the norm, and competitors offer up alternatives to the original smartphone device.
We are, of course, talking predominantly about Asia-Pacific, the US and Europe. In emerging regions, the traditional mobile device still rules and for those who wish to hear specifically about trends and forecasts in one of these regions, namely Africa – where it is expected there will be 735 million mobile phones by the end of the year – watch this video interview with Mark Kaigwa.
Ultimately, what is important about the rising number of smartphones is what they are capable of. We can safely claim they are unlikely to take over the world in a hostile manner. What they are capable of, however, is making our lives more convenient and enriching – be this through our payments experience with mobile money, by facilitating our travel, retail purchases, interaction with peers and games, or enjoying music and video content alongside our communication. That’s right: it comes down to the services available for the smartphone. The device can only be as smart as the content it can work with.
While IHS’ prediction calls for a big cheer in our evolution, this is also a call to action for operators, brands, third parties and innovators. They all need to consider how to make the smartphone as smart and as useful as it can be. Luckily, this is already happening and we look forward to other services that the smartphone will both enable and enrich. While it will never make coffee (although ordering it with your device is more readily available), what other services would you welcome on your smartphone?