A new five-part series by CNN is examining the increasingly large role smartphones play in our lives, and how they are likely to essentially “take over” most aspects of our lives in the future.
According to research firms Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) and Forrester, by 2015, more than 80 percent of Americans will own smartphones, compared to 17 percent of us today. And it's not just us, it's the rest of the world, too: Informa Telecoms & Media predicts that smartphones will be owned and used by one billion people worldwide by 2013. Gartner (News - Alert) has demonstrated that the growth of smartphones is outpacing the growth of PCs, and that by the end of this decade, the smartphone will be our primary method of communication and information.
IDC (News - Alert) analyst Will Stofega told CNN, “These devices are becoming the center of our lives. Smartphones are bringing an immediacy and an availability of the Internet that has changed and transformed the way people access information. They're the first thing we pick up right after our car keys, and they're changing our behavior.”
So why are smartphones so compelling? CNN theorizes that it's because the devices are so personal. “PCs and laptops can be shared among multiple family members or co-workers, but a smartphone is the one connected device that is truly yours,” according to the article.
It's also the mobility of the smartphone that is so appealing, said CNN. Via GPS, your phone “knows” when you leave the house and where you are, and there are now applications that can check traffic and suggest driving routes, recommend stores and restaurants (and offer coupons and discounts), keep track of where your friends are at any given time, and pop weather conditions to you depending on where you are. More futuristic applications available today allow you to turn on the heat and lights in your home before you arrive and even keep an eye on your home via Web cam. All of these applications are something PCs and even laptops can't compete with: at least not while you're on the go.
Smartphones can't – and won't – replace every task in our lives. Says CNN, “The roster of gadgets orbiting your smartphone will fluctuate. We'll still use desktops, or something like them -- no office worker wants to do their daily computing on a tiny screen -- and a pile of other gadgets optimized for specific tasks. Dedicated shutterbugs won't want to trade in their digital cameras, and joggers will still want a tiny digital music player along on their morning run.”
But chances are good that eventually, your PC, your MP3 player, your land line and your digital camera will become mere accessories orbiting around your primary connection to the world: your smartphone. In the future, it may even communicate with you by voice backed up by artificial intelligence. Which begs the question: do we need to start giving our phones names and recognizing them as family members?Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf