When mobile phones first appeared in the 1990s we used them mainly for the purpose suggested by their name: to make phone calls on the move. Today, these devices are called smartphones and using them to call people is a fringe activity. Instead, we use these pocket computers to send each other text messages and multimedia, shop, take photographs and do our banking. Studies show that the average user looks at her smartphone 150 times a day.
Both a hugely transformative technology and a wildly successful consumer product, smartphones are a rare phenomenon. It is estimated that nearly 4 billion of the world’s 5.5 billion adults own one. Annual sales of the devices regularly reach the 1 billion mark as first-time users discover them and established users upgrade to newer models. In many parts of the world, smartphones are the only available means of accessing the internet.
In business, the impact of mobile technology is difficult to overstate. There is a long list of industries – transport, accommodation and television most prominent among them – which have been disrupted by companies that have the smartphone at the heart of their operations. Each sector has followed a similar pattern: established products and business models have lost relevance to mobile applications which offer consumers personalized, on-demand services.
Yet in spite of such a volume of activity, mobile still possess huge potential. Advances are predicted to come through deeper integration with emerging technologies such as:
Find out what vision the world’s leading tech companies have for the future of mobile computing. Meet the technologists and entrepreneurs designing the hardware and software which will power our smartphones in the years to come.