Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Smartphones Overtake Feature Phones in US by 2011

Just consider the title of this post: Smartphones will overtake feature phones in the US in a little more than 18 months. That is a truly impressive prediction.

Roger Entner, the SVP of Research with Nielsen's telecom practice recently posted an article explaining why the research company believes that the US market is rapidly moving to smartphones.

What makes this statistic even more impressive is that today (Q2 2010), Nielsen concedes that just 21% of US consumers have smartphones. They are projecting a 30 percentage point swing in phone ownership in the next 18 months.

Personally, I completely believe it. I have likened the jump from feature phone to smartphone in my life to the jump I made from dial-up to DSL 10+ years ago. I remember thinking "Dialup is fine, I don't really do that much on the computer." People would gush about how wornderful DSL was, but concrete benefits (beyond "it's faster") were hard to come by. But once I moved to DSL, I knew at that moment I would never go back to dial-up.

I think it's the same with smartphones. I can never go back to a feature phone. I was at a little soiree this weekend talking with a fried who works at Cisco. He never seems to be at the office.

He whipped out his iPhone and showed me why. Cisco has an internal instant messaging application with an iPhone client. He opened the client, changed his status, and suddenly he was 'working' to his contacts wtihin the company. Then he showed me the WebEx client for the iPhone. He can listen to the conference call while viewing the slides, all from his iPhone. Unless someone walked by his cube, no one would know he wasn't in the office.

The implications are staggering on many dimensions, but since this is a blog about smart Wi-Fi, I'll circle back to the need for coverage, capacity and offload. To actually work from your iPhone, a subscriber needs a strong signal for voice and good throughput for data apps like WebEx .

The cellular network is already straining with 21% of the population using smartphones. Imagine when we get to 50% penetration 18 months from now. Smart Wi-Fi is a critical technology for making the smartphone vision come true.

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