The mobile industry has finally found its voice and is responding loudly to the Apple iPhone by offering a slew of new phones that rely on touchscreens for input. Just how far will this trend go?
The device that spawned a generation of touchscreens.
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The touchscreen handset, until recently a relatively rarity, is proving to be so popular that more than 230 million are expected to ship in 2012, according to a report from IMS Research. Fewer than 30 million touch-screen handsets were sold in 2007, the year Apple introduced its iPhone to the mainstream user.
During the 2009 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona this month, Samsung introduced a slogan for its mobile phones -- "Touch Power!" -- a pretty clear indicator from one of the world's largest makers of mobile phones that the future is all about touch. While a few iPhone competitors have surfaced from the likes of Samsung, Nokia, and even RIM, there's a lot more to integrating touch functionality than just aping a popular product.
Touch goes beyond slapping a nice, large display onto a phone and making it respond to flying fingers. The user interface has to be intuitive, too. The combination of touchscreen technology used and the design of the user interface all go a long way to making the experience positive or negative. Apple's iPhone has been a success for these reasons. The iPhone merges well-designed hardware and software together in one, very easy-to-use device.
But Apple isn't alone. Not only are other companies tackling touch, the technology is also showing up on laptops, netbooks, desk-bound phones and other devices. Is there nothing a touch won't touch?
Andrew Hsu, Strategic Technical Marketing Manager with Synaptics, said, "The trend that we're seeing is that devices are getting smaller and more powerful. This issue is now how to improve user access to data and applications. We believe that touchscreens are really the most efficient way for providing user input control."