HOME Technology Dec 2010
Mobile media terminals
Smartphones hit consumer level


“At around $200 a whole range of people can access this technology using pre-paid cards. Android is going to alter the way people use their cellphones,” Francois Smith, marketing services manager, Dick Smith.

New operating systems, sleek designs, touchscreens and a proliferation of cool software have sparked an unprecedented demand for smartphones which are rapidly becoming all-in-one mobile media terminals.

The modern smartphone delivers email, calendar, contacts, GPS, music and camera capability along with search engine, social networking applications, multi-gigabyte storage and hi-resolution still and video camera capabilities.

Research group Gartner predicts smartphones will take a 42 percent market share of the overall mobile phone market by 2014. The claim supports the view from other researchers that 2011 will be the year of smartphones and mobile broadband.

Apple’s groundbreaking iPhone kick started the trend with its intuitive touchscreen interface and myriad of applications which meld web access with traditional smartphone functionality. Its latest iPhone 4 and updated operating system (iOS 4) further raise the bar.

Apple however faces some serious challengers with the growing adoption of Google’s Android mobile operating system, launched early this year, now on version 2.2.

Apple iOS eclipsed

Android smartphones including Motorola's Droid X, Samsung's Galaxy, HTC's Evo and Incredible, the Huawei Ideos and offerings from Nokia and others are creating quite a stir. Informed opinion even suggests Android sales may already have
eclipsed Apple's iOS in worldwide market share.

Of the competing cellphone operating systems; iPhone (iOS), Nokia’s Symbian and the new Microsoft Windows 7, Google’s Android is the only open platform developers can use to customise across a range of phones, tablet devices and carriers.

Apple's store boasts more than a quarter of a million applications and while the Android market is smaller — around 80,000 new applications —  it can still run work with most popular mobile programs.

Android has voice control and supports Abode’s Flash technology, something Apple has so far refused to do. The upstart operating system has in effect expanded choice in the smartphone market.

Until recently the smartphone was largely a corporate tool, and the Blackberry and its touchscreen cousins required an investment of at least $1000 and a commercial business contract with a carrier.

“Now at around $200 suddenly a whole range of people can access this technology using pre-paid cards. Android is going to alter the way people use their cellphones,” says Dick Smith marketing services manager, Francois Smith.


“Suddenly the younger demographic can check emails, take pictures and immediately update their Facebook site while they’re out and about. The whole space is changing dramatically.”

Windows smartphone

The Windows Phone 7 is also beginning to make an impression in New Zealand.  Microsoft says the new mobile operating system is designed to do more in less steps, simplifying the mobile experience with access to mobile versions of Microsoft Outlook, Office, Internet Explorer and Xbox Live.

It features one button access to Microsoft search engine Bing and its Zune media player plus news, weather, sports, social networking and photo sharing sites. Hundreds of local developers have downloaded the free tools.  

The phone market is becoming a seriously competitive with carriers pushing every kind of bundled package, and aligning themselves with particular phones and services in order to win and keep customer loyalty.


In October analyst firm Ovum warned carriers they would need to get a better handle on pricing and customer services, as the boom in mobile data continued with the pressure for competitive pre-paid data packages presenting a particular challenge. 


According to Infonetics Research, 36 percent of all mobile broadband devices shipped globally, including PCs, netbooks and tablets, already have embedded communication capabilities.


The numbers being used to try and describe the mobile revolution are staggering. There are over 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world compared to only 720 million a decade ago and Ericsson projects there’ll be no letting up with 50 billion connected devices by 2020.


This takes into account the fact some subscribers have multiple devices and many non-phone devices have a cellular connection. 

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