Smartphones and tablets have taken over the mobile market
Apr 08, 2012 (Journal Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Things have changed at the Verizon cellphone store since Dave Finch joined the company nine years ago.
Now a Verizon district manager who oversees seven stores in central Illinois, Finch has witnessed a technological upheaval. "Nine years ago we offered six different handsets. I think we had one smartphone. Now we have 43 different devices," he said.
While cellphones that are strictly phones are still available, that category is on its way out, judging from national statistics.
Nearly half of U.S. mobile phone subscribers now own smartphones, according to information released earlier this year by Nielsen Mobile Insights. That's up from 36 percent of last year.
Two-thirds of those buying new devices in recent months have chosen a smartphone over a traditional cell phone, according to Nielsen.
In the beginning
Before Americans became entranced with mobile devices, of course, there was long love affair with the landline telephone.
We have a long telephonic history. The first telephone exchange was installed in Hartford, Conn., in 1877, with the first exchange linking major cities established between New York and Boston in 1883.
The first automatic telephone exchange was installed in 1892 while the first rotary dial telephone was developed in 1923 in France.
Although the first commercial mobile telephone service became available in St. Louis in 1946, the mobile telephone would not become common for another four decades.
But the mobile phone has definitely become common in the 21st century. Now we not only have a device that serves as a phone but as a camera, clock, light, stock ticker, weather service, TV set, movie screen (admittedly a small one), typewriter and, yes, you can even send Morse code -- only now it's called texting.
So many choices
The choices are numerous: There's the Razr Maxx made by Motorola. This is an Android phone, which means that the software was designed by Google.
There's also the Samsung Galaxy S II ($200 to $230 with a two-year contract from AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile). It's lightweight and quite popular. Another highly-rated phone is the HTC Amaze 4G ($260 with two-year contract from T-Mobile).
There's also the wildly-successful iPhone from Apple. Even those of us who don't have an iPhone, of course, have heard about it.
But if there are winners in the smart device marketplace, there are also losers.
The BlackBerry had been the smartphone of choice, "once a badge of success in the corporate world," as the Wall Street Journal recently noted.
Today Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the device, is in turmoil. Wholesale management changes have been announced as stock prices plummeted. RIM shares have lost about 75 percent of their value in the past year.
The iPhone's success is usually credited to the late Steve Jobs, Apple's figurehead founder, who oversaw the design of both hardware and software for the revolutionary headset. Then there are all those apps that opened the floodgates for hundreds of thousands of applications, allowing users to individualize their phones.
To illustrate the impact of the smart device, consider the fact that an iPhone costs about 1 percent of the price of the first mini-cams that revolutionized TV news in the late 1970s, wrote Arthur Greenwald in a March issue of TV NewsCheck.
"Yet the iPhone delivers much better video and can even edit and transmit raw footage -- or a finished story -- back to the station," he noted.
"Stations are integrating these smartphones and tablets into their daily workflow at such a rate that even vendors of traditional broadcast equipment and software have begun to adapt high-end products to interact with them," stated Greenwald.
'My virtual office'
But TV stations aren't the only ones that see the value of the smartphone. John Picton, 49, a resident of Washington and self-described "techno-geek," said he uses his "all the time."
"We all have iPhones and iPads," he said, referring to the Picton household.
As a project manager in the telecommunications industry who plans the installation of telephone systems, Picton said he demands a lot from his device.
"I work a lot of hours. My device is my virtual office," he said.
"Devices today have become so easy to use. We got an iPad for my mother, who's 83. She uses it constantly," said Picton.
The iPad is Apple's entry into the tablet field, a field that the device dominates. Even before the recent release of the third-generation iPad, Apple had reported selling 55 million iPads since entering the market in 2010.
"Tablets will replace laptops," said Ryan Johnson, an area retail sales manager with AT&T, showing off the wide range of products carried by a Peoria store recently.
As for what might replace the tablet, that's something the BlackBerry folks would like to know.
Steve Tarter can be reached at 686-3260 or email@example.com.
___ (c)2012 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.) Visit the Journal Star (Peoria,
Ill.) at www.PJStar.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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