What Is a Smartphone?
A smartphone is a handheld electronic device that provides a connection to a cellular network. Smartphones allow people to make phone calls, send text messages, and access the Internet.
- A smartphone is a handheld electronic device that provides a connection to a cellular network and the Internet.
- The world's first smartphone was created by IBM in 1994, nicknamed "Simon."
- The introduction of smartphones dramatically altered the telecommunications sector. Smartphones were considered the death knell of the prototypical cell phone.
- The popularity of smartphones has also created business opportunities outside of the development of operating systems and the construction of device hardware.
Understanding the Smartphone
The world's first smartphone was created by IBM in 1994. Nicknamed "Simon," the smartphone included revolutionary features including a touchscreen, email, and built-in apps including a calculator and a sketch pad. Since then, cellular phone functionality has continued to improve, especially in the years after 2000. By 2007, when Apple Inc. (AAPL) released its groundbreaking iPhone (and the 3G version of the phone in 2008), there were already more than 200 million people using 3G around the world.
Before the inclusion of Internet browsing on mobile phones, network operators relied on the fee structure that they had relied on for decades: calling another line cost a certain flat rate, and sending a text message cost another flat rate. The introduction of smartphones dramatically altered the telecommunications sector. While cell phones were considered the death knell of land-based phones, smartphones were considered the death knell of the prototypical cell phone.
Once consumers understood that they could interact with smartphone-based applications, such as messaging apps and games, the demand for cell phones that did not offer that functionality would plummet. The demand for cell phones that lacked the functionality of smartphones plummeted in developed economies.
Changes in the Cost of Smartphones
Thanks to the proliferation of mobile technology and Moore's Law, the cost of cell phones has decreased over time. The first handheld cellphone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, cost a whopping $9,000 in today's currency. Today, it's estimated more than 5 billion people have mobile devices, approximately 94% of the population of advanced economies and 83% of emerging economies, according to Pew Research Center. The price change is linked to improved technology – smartphones have more storage and memory than computers historically had – as well as to the demand for specific smartphone brands.
Apple, for example, commands a premium for its iPhone devices, with much of that premium being the result of Apple being a well-known and trusted brand. The market has considered the introduction of the iPhone to be the savior of Apple as a company, as its computer sales and revenue had lagged in the years leading to the device’s launch. Other companies use white labels in order to spread their technology.
Impact on Social Media
The popularity of smartphones has also created business opportunities outside of the development of operating systems and the construction of device hardware. The creation of smartphone software applications, or “apps,” has become a multibillion-dollar industry.
Apps are downloaded to a smartphone via a “store,” which is controlled by the company that has created the operating system that the smartphone uses. In many cases, apps are free to download, but in some cases, there is a fee. Application developers may include advertisements in the app content once opened or may sell products through the app.
One of the major beneficiaries of the rise in smartphone adoption has been social networks, such as Facebook (FB). Being able to log into a social network account from a smartphone has increased the number of hours that people spend on the network, which has dramatically increased network revenue. The behavior of smartphone users has, in some cases, been the driving factor in the changes to social networks that were once dominated by people using their personal computers for access.
The increasing prevalence of smartphones has negatively impacted some industries, particularly companies that manufactured digital cameras. Most smartphones have picture-taking capabilities that rival standard digital cameras, but, unlike digital cameras, also have the ability to interact with other smartphone apps readily, and the Internet. Some smartphone apps compete with technologies that were once limited to personal computers such as calculators, web browsers, alarm clocks, documents, and notepads.