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2010-2019: A Journey from Touch Phone to Smartphone


Ten years is considered a long time in technology but for mobile phones it proved to be much more so. During this time frame the cellphone first morphed into a touch phone with its own screen that allowed users to perform basic tasks that they did over a laptop before emerging as a device that became human’s constant companion – be it at the workplace or the bedroom.

A report by the Boston Consulting Group showed that mobile technologies are a critical driver of the world economy, generating global revenue of almost $3.3 trillion and 11 million new jobs. Mobile phones have fundamentally altered the way we do business, offering more mobility, flexibility and availability, allowing professionals to stay connected and online every second.

The processors became ultra-quick and as for software only the iOS and Android were left standing as others like Microsoft who sought to ride the mobile bandwagon fell by the roadside. Even the components began to standardize, be it the OLED screens, the battery packs or the cameras that often became the yardstick for a smartphone’s smartness.

With the lines defining quality getting dimmer and cost differential getting wider, the Chinese conveniently placed themselves in the sweet spot where the phones had enough to drool over without having to burn a hole in the pockets, like the ones from Apple, Google and Samsung did. Companies such as One Plus, RealMe and Huawei became first choice for users with limited wallet size.

However, the decade wasn’t just about gadgets. It was also about mobile internet telephony. From the time where 3G was considered a luxury, the last decade saw 4G becoming standard on smartphones that led to a hockey stick growth in digital content consumption, culminating now in the surfeit of OTT platforms offering original fare for a price that is still cheaper than satellite channels.

Commercial 4G mobile internet services were first deployed in Scandinavia in 2010. However, it took a few years more for 4G phones and services to be rolled out for the rest of the world and to come to the mainstream market. Unlike its predecessor 3G, 4G allows for download speeds up to 10 times faster because of its ability to connect to multiple cellular frequencies at once, an innovation known as “carrier aggregation.”

Just when we thought that the smartphone has finally replaced the television as the customer’s preferred digital companion, there comes news that the advent of 5G over the next 12-18 months could add extra zing to the mobile phone, making it the preferred gaming device as well. Once that happens, the demand for games-as-a-service could be the next story.

“Thanks to the emergence of 5G, 2020 will see the portable computing and mobile value chains converging to bring always-on broadband experiences on the move to new device types beyond smartphones,” says David McQueen, 5G Devices, Smartphones, and Wearables Research Director at ABI Research.

Already, the big guns are preparing for the next round of growth across the smartphone journey. Facebook acquired PlayGiga of Spain and right on cue Google bought Montreal-based Typhoon Studios, both entities owning a few gaming titles and sitting on IP that could generate many more.

If the Smartphone destroyed mobile productivity major Blackberry earlier this decade, it may well be on the way to replacing gaming consoles in the coming one. Besides, the phone could also end up becoming the hub of the smart homes and smart cars that are now making their way into common parlance.

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