Smartphones to overtake non-smarties in 2015


by Jeremy Kessel on November 18, 2009

Really? Who could have guessed? I’m not an official big-shot analyst by any stretch, but I’m pretty sure that I could have made the same conclusion, as could anyone who knows anything about technology trends (like spoiled teenagers). But alas, an actual organization, Telecom Trends International (who?), has just released a report saying that smartphones will indeed overtake “regular” phones by 2015. Gotta love these glimpses into the future.

This report, which includes 27 figures and 19 tables (for the record), says that sales of smartphones surpass “regular” phones in 2015 and will constitute two-thirds of total mobile handset sales by 2016. The thing is, how do we even know what will separate (if there is still even a distinction) “smart” phones from “non-smart” phones some five years ahead of time? Sure, in today’s world of smart and dumb phones, we analysts can make predictions of this sort. But these type of prognostications tend to leave a bad taste in my technology-loving mouth.

The thing with mobile phones, and technology in general, is that they are forever changing/morphing/evolving. Predicting that smartphones will overtake “regular” phones in 2015 is no different than me saying, “tablets will surpass ‘traditional’ laptops in 2012″ – both are purely nonsense. While maybe while maybe factually accurate (in today’s world), these types of reports and findings seem to assume that the world can’t possibly change over the course of five years. A ridiculous notion, given the insane exponential curve of Internet/computer technology enhancements over the last 25 years.

With all this in mind, I am going to go out on a limb and prophesize* that by 2015 all handsets on the market will be considered “smart” phones by today’s standards. In other words, given the rapid development of next-gen networks and handsets, 99% of all mobile devices by 2015 will not fit in any of today’s “categories” as all mobile phones will have crossed the “smart” threshold by that time, thus making reports like this meaningless.

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