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How will the MWC smartphone invasion affect us as people?

Posted by Joe McNamara on 6th March 2012

MWC has seen the titans of the tech industry churn out tablets and smartphones of every ilk. Debates have raged around how on earth mobile operators will cope with increased demand, but what about us? How are we, the consumers, going to cope with mobile devices becoming an embedded part of our society?

Smartphone use tripled in 2011 and by the end of 2012 the number of mobile devices will outnumber people. Socially, the impact of this growth has been gargantuan and there’s clearly more still to come.

Prices are set to decrease with competition – in fact by 2016 it is estimated that over half of all smartphones will cost under £200, making them more accessible and an even more justifiable purchase for those who don’t already have one.

Slaves to our smartphones

We already live in a world where people (especially us tech PRs!) can’t be alone with their thoughts for a few seconds anymore. If we’re not browsing Facebook, sending a tweet, or checking our e-mails, we’re listening to music, flicking through an e-reader or playing Angry Birds.

I endured a two-hour train journey this weekend with a flat battery on my smartphone, and I can only describe the experience as mentally torturous and maybe character building.

With many grown adults feeling that way, it’s hardly surprising to see teenagers and children becoming immersed in this trend. I recently witnessed a family of three children having a very civilised meal out with their parents. Civilised in a ‘grown-ups have a quiet chat while all three kids play on their iPads’ kind of way.

Admittedly it was a slightly worrying scene, but one I really can’t bemoan. Mobile phones have become an archetypal prop for the generic grunting teenager of the 21st century, a role I fulfilled myself with aplomb as a ‘noughties’ teenager.

Only online

Many in my generation simply can’t imagine going a day without the Internet to carry out basic functions. For example, I’ve never personally paid a bill or transferred money using ‘traditional’ means – online banking has always been there.

Perhaps the next generation will be able to make similar claims such as ‘I pay all my bills on my phone / tablet.’ Online retailers such as e-bay have published stats reflecting such a trend, with significant growth in the area of mobile commerce.

Say what you like about smartphones and tablets making people anti-social, work obsessed or generally a bit sad. They’re getting cheaper, they’re getting better, and soon most of us will be using them.

Face it, mobile devices are taking over, and there’s absolutely nothing we can or want to do about it.

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