Mobile
Commentary
12/13/2007
11:07 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
50%
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Resisting Smartphones Is Futile, You Will Be Assimilated

Mobility is changing everything. Not only will sales of smartphones surpass laptops in a few years, but 1 in 8 U.S. households has cut their wireline telephone services in favor of wireless. Will enterprises ever cut the cord?

Mobility is changing everything. Not only will sales of smartphones surpass laptops in a few years, but 1 in 8 U.S. households has cut their wireline telephone services in favor of wireless. Will enterprises ever cut the cord?Smartphones are on fire. Sales of the productivity-enhancing products are surging at a 30% compound annual growth rate, and will outpace sales of laptops in just five years. In fact, In-Stat analyst Bill Hughes likens them to the Borg: Resisting smartphone adoption is futile, if you want to be as productive as your coworkers or competitors, you will assimilate and get one.

In response to a question about a recent In-Stat study, he said, "There are still many people who passionately believe they need just a (plain cell phone). I would like to see them keep an open mind. Realistically, over time people will come to see their peers with smartphones and they will just want a phone -- but they also will want to have navigation and real-time traffic, e-mail, etc. Before they know it, they will have a smartphone."

Hughes also believes that smartphone penetration in other countries will outstrip adoption here in the United States. "It's hard to communicate to an American audience how computer-centric we are compared to other regions. [We focus on] big screens, full keyboards. Frankly, a PC isn't necessary in a lot of parts of the world. The net result is that we have a hard time getting our heads around the notion of using a smartphone as a laptop replacement. At the same time, [my research shows] that if it could be done well, a lot of people would be very interested in that solution. But they consider the keyboard too small and the screen too small (on current smartphones)," he said.

I think people -- and enterprises -- will overcome these limitations. Many of them already have.

Not only are smartphone sales skyrocketing, but the use of mobile phones as a main line of communication is growing. For example, I don't have a hard-wired office phone. I use only my smart-ish cell phone as my general business line. It just makes sense. Why pay two phone bills? And if someone needs to reach me, my cell phone is always the best method. This strategy works for me and my coworkers, but I'm not sure it would work for every enterprise out there. Obviously, there are many millions of desk jockeys who never leave their offices and have no supportable business need for a mobile phone. In their cases, landlines are perfectly suitable.

On the home front, that is changing. A recent survey conducted by the federal government shows that 13.6 of American households have chopped their landlines and use only mobile phones. Some more interesting info came from the study. Renters are more likely to cut the line than homeowners, with 28% of them using only mobile lines compared with just 6.7% of homeowners.

But will businesses ever fully be able to cut the cord? I don't think so. It will be the right thing for some workers and some enterprises, but not all.

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