The smartphone is on track to become the fastest growing form of technology in history. A report by Michael Degusta at the MIT’s Technology Review has pulled together various sets of data covering nine key technologies since 1876, the year in which the telephone was invented.
Degusta’s analysis shows that smartphones are heading for a market saturation point (which is 75 per cent) in less than ten years. That’s about half the time it took for conventional mobile phones to reach the same level. By comparison it took 25 years for the fixed-line telephone to reach even 10 per cent of the US market.
The report does admit that it’s still early days and information is still coming in regarding this and other new tech categories such as tablets, which Degusta says are also growing rapidly.
The figures also focus on the US market, where data is more complete than for the rest of the world. However, the report goes on to look at future prospects for smartphones in the developing world, where the potential is huge once the price-to-performance ratio improves.
“The inevitable trend is already clearly visible,” writes Degusta. “According to IDC, smartphones accounted for 36 per cent of global mobile-phone shipments in the first quarter of 2012, up from 25 per cent a year earlier. If smartphones continue to gain at even this pace, ‘feature phones’ will be largely a memory in another five years. It remains to be seen whether networks the world over can support such a rapid conversion to smartphones.”
Indeed, it’s the fact that smartphones can work on the existing infrastructure (though not always at their best) that partly accounts for their rapid rise. Technologies that require infrastructure to be built, such as telephone lines or a national electricity grid, obviously take much longer.
Let us know when you joined the smartphone club, and what your first one was.