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October 18, 2011

In Focus: The rise and rise of the smartphone

Recent times have seen more and more of us across the world embracing newer and newer technology (think VCR-DVD-PVR), and never is this truer than in the ever-changing world of mobile. As the ‘invention curve’ rises at a steeper rate seemingly every month, more and more ‘smart tech’ is added to new smartphone models, but before we look into the future, let’s take a minute to decide what we mean by ‘smartphone’.

Depending on your definition, the first Nokia smartphone was the Nokia 7650 (as seen below – a handsome beast, we’re sure you’ll agree)

This beauty was described as a ‘cutting-edge’ phone and ‘ahead of its time’, loaded with features and was thought to have moved the market on in leaps and bounds. Jump to the present time, however, and it looks…well it looks how it looks. And you may question what impact it would make in today’s market, where a smartphone needs to multi-task (by a European definition) and have a QWERTY keyboard (to use the US definition). Ultimately, though, a smartphone can be defined in many ways and all depends on your perspective. My parents would think a phone that can record and email a video would be ‘smart’ – many of you will have slightly higher expectations.

So where does that leave us? A Nielsen study from 2010 predicted that smartphones were set to eclipse sales of ‘feature phones’ in the US right about….now, and I’d suggest that there has been an acceleration in sales that means this has already occurred. So what does the future look like for smartphones?

Well, if you take a look at what a phone can do now, and how quickly technology is advancing, is it beyond the realms of possibility that your phone will soon be able to ‘sense’ things you can’t see (carbon monoxide, an elderly relative who has fallen, or that sci-fi staple, the iris scan)? As well what a phone can do, where do we draw the line size- and speed-wise? The trend used to be that ‘phones of the future’ would be tiny (think Zoolander), but the demand seems to have shifted to a larger and brighter screen (but at what point does a phone become a tablet?). And how fast is fast enough?

So, where do you see the future of smartphones? Leave us a comment with your thoughts, or let us know @Nokia_Connects.