Our society was dramatically changed by the capability and availability of a simple cell phone in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The cell phone gave us a lot of freedom, convenience, and even feelings of safety and security. Little did we know that the cell phone would grow into a small limitless computer that we carry around with us every day. Our dependence on the smartphone grew deeper, and in 2012, Popular Mechanics named the smartphone as the number one gadget that changed the world.
“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.’” – Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, 2007
What’s even more impressive is that the smartphone beat out the light bulb, the telephone, the personal computer, and the television for this spot. Editors selected the smartphone due to its limitless potential and its ability to aid in personal communications outside of a phone conversation.
Growing Smartphone Use
One of the first smartphones to hit the market was the iPhone in 2007. This piece of technology revolutionized the cell phone industry. Today smartphones account for four out of every five cell phones purchased on American soil. It is estimated that two-thirds of adults in the United States own a smartphone. MIT reported that the smartphone tied with the television for the fastest adoption rate of consumer technology. In just 2.5 years, the smartphone had reached 40 percent of the market.
How the Smartphone has Changed our Lifestyle
While most people still use their smartphone to verbally communicate with others, these numbers have stayed steady over the last decade. On the other hand, data usage from the smartphone has skyrocketed. In 2009, 930 billion monthly bytes were used compared with 2017 when 9.6 trillion monthly bytes of data were used.
In addition to putting data capabilities at our fingertips nearly anywhere we go, smartphones have changed and improved other areas of our lives. For instance:
Photography: Smartphones have put cameras in our pockets with the ability to capture anything at a moment’s notice. In 2017, 1.2 trillion digital pictures were taken around the globe,.
Work: On-demand work, such as driving for Uber or grocery delivery like Instacart, began during the internet explosion in the late 1990s. Smartphones gave this type of work an even better boost with GPS capabilities and on-demand marketplace apps.
In addition, smartphones have changed the environment and the culture of business. Younger generations appreciate the ability their smartphone gives them to work remotely.
Media Consumption: Thanks to new technologies brought to us by smartphones, socializing happens with the help of mobile phone connections and social media. Time spent reading books, newspapers, listening to the radio, and watching TV has also decreased.
Advertising: With so many people using smartphones, spending on mobile advertising campaigns surpassed that of desktop advertising for the first time ever in 2017. It is estimated that in 2019, over $160 billion will be spent on mobile advertising compared with just over $88 billion for desktop advertising.
Shopping: If you forgot to get a birthday gift for your nephew or need to send flowers to your mom for Mother’s Day, you can take care of these tasks in mere minutes, in almost any location. Many retailers have created their own user-friendly apps in order to make mobile purchasing easier and more convenient.
Getting Where You Need to Go
Gone are the days of paper maps. Now we can simply type the address of where we need to go into our smartphones and let it lead the way. Most GPS devices will help us avoid areas where there is heavy traffic, accidents, or construction; something paper maps or printed directions could never do.
The Future of Smartphones
The smartphone has been described as a metaphorical giant oak tree with virtually no limits to what it can do. Over the next several years, the technology is expected to get even better while smartphone use also increases.
Industry experts predict that in the future, manufacturers will continue to improve the battery life and even make screens lighter and more durable. In 2014, there were 1.57 billion smartphone users across the world. In 2017, that same number had grown to 2.32 billion. It is predicted that by the year 2020, there will be 2.87 billion smartphone users globally.