This is a guest post by Pierre-Adrien Mongin.
From IBM’s Simon in 1993, the first phone to feature touch screen qwerty keyboard and email, to today’s Apple mania and continuous proliferation of new devices: we have witnessed the rapid evolution of the smartphone. Now that we are in a position where touch phones are essentially the norm, how much has really changed since its awkward beginnings? And what does the future of these wireless handsets hold?
Callie Payne, the smartphone expert at PricePanda offers you an analysis of the evolution of the smartphone, from business luxury to everyman’s essential.
Wider reaching Technology
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007 it had a 3.4 inch screen, 320 X 480 pixel resolution (one of the best at the time), 8GB expandable storage and a 2MP camera. Today, these specifications are run of the mill, if not poor. Even very low budget smartphones today, such as the newly released Samsung Galaxy Star II, a phone marketed with young teens, first time mobile users and so called “emerging markets” in mind, share identical specs with this first, revolutionary touch phone. It seems that the market is developing very quickly.
Today’s high end handsets favour much larger screens, with a new tendency towards so called “phablets” a new evolutionary strand which straddles the functionality of a phone and a tablet. The new iPhone 6, said to be released in September, is rumoured to have 13MP camera, 4.7” virtually unbreakable Sapphire glass screen screen and possibly 1704 x 960 screen resolution and an enormous 128 GB storage capacity.
Evidently, there is a large gap between luxury products and budget devices, but there has also been a certain tendency towards the democratisation of the technology recently with Samsung Galaxy’s choice to make all their new budget Galaxy devices compatible with the newest android (KitKat) and Androids choice to make its newest software optimised with 512MB RAM, i.e the cheaper smartphones.
The smartphone is a fashion accessory that everyone has access to, with the recent trend towards cheap devices. However, will these devices actually last or are we evolving into a disposable “planned obsolescence” stage of smartphone evolution? Is the phrase “buy cheap buy twice” really what we want for the future of our handsets?
Smartphone Usage in South East Asia and the Philippines
For markets in the South-East Asia, the smart gadget “saturation” brings not only the latest fashion accessory, but affordable access to the latest technology and personal development. In the Philippines smartphone usage stood in 2013 at 53% and is predicted to grow by a further 22% in just one year. With local brands such as Cherry Mobile and MyPhone dominating the Filipino market with low budget, yet high performing smartphones the potential reaches much further than non-stop access to beloved facebook.
According to a recent World Bank report (Download the PDF), the increase in portable wireless communication devices use equals across the board increase in productivity and benefits. Farmers have better access to information increasing agricultural productivity, taxi drivers have real time traffic updates and broader citizen engagement means wider reaching updates such as weather warnings. The devices are being used more as mini computers than they are telephones, particularly with the increase in free calls over Skype or Facetime. As the internet becomes more and more mobile, it makes sense that smartphones, with their continuous 3G connectivity and relative portability of size, proliferate.
The evolution of smartphones has reached a peak in its evolution where there is a significant turnover in products, bringing the prices down on the technology. While this has its downsides such as planned obsolescence and internet over dependency, the greater reach in market brings a giant step towards closing the information gap. Access to wireless internet has become more and more desirable in the 21st Century, and therefore more widely available thanks to the demands of the market, benefitting all.