Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | ePaper

Smartphone and the saturated market

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Ashish Kalam :
t has been nearly a decade that smartphones have become a mainstream product. After years of trial and error, lacklustre marketing and hesitant attempts to define the segment, smartphone sales finally caught significant traction in 2008, soon after the expected but statistically unlikely popularisation of the first iPhone. People often mistaken Apple products to be the first of their segment, this is due Apple’s habit of entering markets that have newly been established, stealing the limelight for better or for worse. This often gives them the authority to set standards for others to catch up to. By Q4 of 2009, more than 173.5 million smartphones were shipped world-wide, with year on year growth leading to 1 billion units in 2013 and 1.3 billion in 2014. That is a lot of sales, resulting a big revenue for any company, no matter their size or the role they play in the process. Let’s investigate how this revolution was made possible.
There are two ways to look at it, the first is that Smartphones are the product of all the available technologies and inevitable utilisation of the leftover resources of high investment development. Here are some of them.
Highly advanced communication technologies used for government operations including, military networking, astronomy and space exploration and widespread content circulation. These are high investment research and development and with usage that cannot justify the cost. These are bound to be commercialized in one way or another.
With dependency on digital workstations, people often need to take their work with them while travelling, Laptops soon became the option, creating and ever-growing demand for even more portable devices that at least did the basic tasks without bringing the bulk required for the more complex ones. Mobile phones were already doing that, but consumers needed something in between or rather a replacement that would be the amalgamation of the two. Thankfully, failed portable technologies were abundant to be salvaged and repurposed for a smartphone, such as compact batteries, touch screen to replace a keyboard, tiny speakers which were otherwise laughed at, tiny cameras that amount to nothing compared to a regular one and new compact version of USB ports which couldn't find much use in other devices.
The most significant of all was the breakthrough mobile processor architecture by ARM, a balance of power consumption, network management and fan-less heat management that was key to be a sustainable model for a mobile platform. A field often ignored by giants like Intel and Nvidia. It soon became the standard.
The new architecture opened doors for new software development or rather the utilization of open source software that is always being evolved without a purpose, something that was difficult in the desktop and PC market where Microsoft and Apple Dominate. This meant any new software developed for phones didn't necessarily need to pay commission to these Tech giants.
Consumers in general also leaned towards more personal items for purchase rather than something they might have to share, specially when they use it for recreational purposes and it involves privacy.
That said there is a purpose-driven side to the smartphone industry too.
Technology grows exponentially but it also becomes more difficult to educate the general people about them. Smartphones keeps consumers associated with technology on an individual level, every person has their own. This helps spreading the word by implementing it news phones that people will have to buy anyway. This also helps in selling more of the same product resulting lower production costs. The industry also opens doors to a new platform for research and development, employing countless professionals struggling in an otherwise stable field. Smartphones, unlike workstations are always active, inevitably resulting more usage of services, network and ofcourse the device itself.
Such usage also results in a short lifespan for the device, forcing users to buy a new one at least every other year. Smartphone are also meant to be a universal platform where every new technology is implemented and becomes the centre of all kinds’ technological dependencies.
Sadly, this booming business only peaked on 2016 and a year on year decline on 2017 and 2018. But it only means that the consumers are now educated about the industry and only spend on what they need and not what they might. This is a sign of an established market never to die but one that will also never blow out of proportion.
The industry has reached Adulthood, it can now take care of itself. This gives large corporations an indication to proceed and establish other related industries,such as ‘Internet of things,’ Robotics, Autonomous Vehicles, Cloud services, Virtual Reality and the list goes on. Smartphone will be the door to every one of these new technologies.
Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony and Nvidia among others are already prepared for the next big thing. Whatever might be the new hype among these, smartphones will be the foundation for it.
A new wave of change awaits, and what we are observing now is the ‘calm before the storm.’

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