Quick, there’s a fire in your home. You only have time to grab one or two personal possessions before you need to get out of there. What is important enough for you to take? If you answered “mobile phone,” then you are a true citizen of the world. You will also probably gain the approval of Mike O’Hara, the head of marketing for GMSA, a cell phone industry trade group, which did a study charting potential growth for cell phones, and came up with a figure of 1.2 trillion.
This was announced recently in San Francisco, with more developments surely to come at the GMSA-hosted Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) in Barcelona. When asked by reporters if the demand of phones will “level off,” or if people will have to purchase multiple handsets in the name of progress, O’Hara was quick to focus on the positive projections.
According to a 2011 Pew (News - Alert) Research Study, 83 percent of American adults own a cell phone, and about 35 percent said they choose a smart phone. As for the rest of the world’s population, “global mobile data traffic grew 2.6-fold in 2010, nearly tripling for the third year in a row. This year's estimate is that global mobile data traffic grew 159 percent in 2010.” Mobile phones and online social networking sites combine to keep the entire world connected. People’s lives are so busy and even hectic, that they would not function as well socially without a transportable device to instantly plug them in to the real world as well as the virtual world.
As someone who recently was caught in a rainstorm with a dead car battery and an uncharged mobile phone, I was quick to appreciate its significance. A far cry from the bricklike behemoths that were lugged around in the 90s, during the advent of the mobile phone industry, today’s sleek designs have adapted to fit into our lifestyles. With a little help from the Pew Research Center, take a look at some of the ways people rely on phones today:
- 40 percent of mobile phone owners said they found themselves in an emergency situation and having their cell phone helped.
- Half of all adult cell owners (51 percent) had used their phone at least once to get information they needed right away.
- 27 percent said that they experienced a situation in the previous month in which they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone at hand.
Not only for quick information retrieval or GPS/advice on directions, but for social networking and emergency situations. Phones have graduated from a pleasant convenience to a vital part of our daily lives. In fact, many jobs require their employees to be accessible by mobile phone. And considering how quickly and compellingly technology is advancing, suppliers possess both the means and incentive to continue raising the bar.
But that’s not to say it will be an easy task. There is an inherent problem with this immensely popular device. Supply and demand starts to become unbalanced when your total of customers eclipses potential buyers. Especially considering this is not a product that is easily disposable or replaceable, and how costly it is to add a new plan/new phone. The ratio of satisfied customers to new prospects need to be carefully cultivated, and that throws a monkey wrench into the rapidly expanding mobile industry.
However, the business world players are not unaware of this, and have pointed to their companies’ rapid changes and other accommodations of the public’s needs over the past 20 years. AT&T (News - Alert) Emerging Devices Head, Glenn Lurie said it best. “The key is to make such products and their pricing simple. If we don’t, we are going to fail.”’ With all the dynamic and ever-changing variables in the world of mobile phones, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Edited by Stefanie Mosca