In 1997 Ericsson coined the term "smartphone" and 7 years ago Apple launched their first iPhone. Smartphones have not only revolutionized the phone industry, but many other industries including the camera, computer and Internet industry and changed the way many organizations work. An entire new niche of devices followed after the smartphone with tablets and phaplets creating a hybrid between mobile phones and desktop computers. Since May 2013, more mobile devices have accessed the Internet than desktop computers, and it no longer makes sense to talk about mobile, online or real time, because those worlds are merged.
Android is considered to be the open platform and iOS the closed, and together they dominate the smartphone market. Apple is the heavyweight in the high-end market where they own 50-75% of the market. Apple has about 600 million active iOS devices, compared to 1 billion Google Android devices, and each quarter Apple is accountable for 10% of the total smartphone sales in the world, and one third of the total revenue. Despite the fact that there are more active Android devices on the market, Apple owns two-third of the app store revenue. It may seem obvious that Apple should expand their market share by producing a cheaper smartphone so they can capture new segments, but there is a risk that it would cannibalize their margin of high-end products.
While analysts and techies are impatiently waiting for the next new revolution within digital devices, Apple has set the date for their next media event on September 9, 2014, where the new iPhone is expected to be unveiled. There are a lot of speculation about what we can expect, will Apple make a cheaper iPhone or a faster with a bigger screen or a third surprise. Apple's SVP Eddy Cue announced early this summer that Apple has the best product pipeline he has seen in 25 years. This statement does not reduce the expectations to Apple and their historical ability to innovate.
The development of smartphones for the past 7 years has created a stable and functional platform, and where the main competitors in the smartphone market including Samsung, Microsoft, Google and Apple have followed each other in most of the progress we have encountered. There are many guesses about where we will be in the next 7 years, including Apple's iWatch and if that is going to change the market for smartphones - which is doubtful in a short term since watches, bracelets, glasses and other wearables so far are accessory rather than a primary device.
Two decades ago the phone industry anticipated that the future within mobile technologies would be focused on voice, today it is the "feature" we seem to use the least on our smartphones. The questions is whether it makes sense to call it a "phone" since our mobile behavior today is centered around data and connectedness. By the end of 2014 it is expected that 2 billion people will own a smartphone and that we will spend over 100 billion dollars on apps. Our smartphone have changed our lives in countless ways, the way we listen to music, watch movies, read books, pay with our mobile phones, and using apps as naturally as we used browsers. The way we shop offline as well as online through our smartphones has also changed dramatically, where 25% of smartphone usage is spent on searching for physical store information.
We are still at the beginning of a "smart data" era, and with the spread of smartphones and tablets there is an ideal infrastructure from which new innovation can flow. We can hope for a future where solution become more horizontal rather than vertical, where data, systems and hardware speaks better together and makes us independent of our digital devices as we have experienced with cloud-based software. There are still many industries that needs a technological upgrade, including the health care industry that many tech-companies are investing in disrupting. Even though most people in the West takes Internet access for granted, there is still a potential for new markets since 60 percent of the worlds population still aren't connected to the Internet. As smartphones becomes cheaper, it may also accelerate the spread of Internet access to all parts of the world, and based on the smartphone infrastructure, we can scale the access to health care, education and other vital sources of information and interaction, creating one giant leap for mankind.