In the past five years we’ve grown accustomed to a fundamental shift in the nature of the online space. That is, online went from a place you accessed from your desktop, to a place you accessed from anywhere. And it all happened, of course, via the smartphone.
It’s hard to believe that it’s not yet six years since the launch of the iPhone. In that short time, mobile internet has transformed the way we shop, consume content, communicate with one another, navigate through our cities, monitor our health, manage our schedules – the list is endless. Now, the smartphone wars – the battle for control of the smartphone market – rage like a never-ending thunderstorm: witness the recent wall-to-wall coverage of the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S4.
So mobile internet has changed the way we live. But consider this fundamental fact: we’re still closer to the beginning of the journey than the end. If on-the-go access to the global brain has transformed our lives already, consider how much more it will do so when everyone has a smartphone.
Now, key signs show that we’re at the tipping point that will take us to that moment. The research firm Comscore say smartphone penetration in the US and Europe ticked over the crucial 50 per cent threshold in December 2012: for the first time ever in those regions, more people own a smartphone than do not.
But the movement is being fuelled by the staggering uptake of smartphones in emerging markets. In 2011 there were around 70 million active smartphones in China. Now, according to the research firm iiMedia, there are 330 million; that’s more than the 320 million registered in the US. It’s estimated that China will reach 500 million smartphone users by the end of this year. No wonder Apple is reputed to be working on a low-cost iPhone for China: a move that could further accelerate uptake across Asia, South America and Africa.
source: The National / David Mattin