I’ve always admired technology’s ability to embrace change; to be the flux, always adapting, catering to whatever bizarre function our imaginations conjure up. When we gazed into the ocean, thinking it might be nice to breathe underwater, technology gave us submarines, and diving gear. When we watched birds fly and wished for wings, technology gave us planes, helicopters, hot air balloons.
And when we read William Gibson, and asked for an invisible, infinite digital dimension, where we could share all our wishes and thoughts, technology obliged.
In response to our call for effortless, instant connectivity, technology shapeshifted into the internet. But simply knowing what’s going on anywhere isn’t enough anymore. Now we want to be involved, to be mobile; we need to travel to the action. Again, technology answers.
Mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.), developed as a reaction to our need for a versatile, moveable web, and they’re quickly becoming the standard for general internet use. According to Pew Research data, worldwide smartphone ownership shot up a staggering 16% in two years, from 21% in 2013 to 37% in 2015, with developing countries such as Malaysia, Brazil, and China boasting astronomical increases.
Nowhere are trends toward mobile tech more apparent than in America, where owning at least one mobile device is almost a social (and professional) necessity. Pew data reveals that 68% of American adults now own a smartphone, and an overwhelming majority (92%) have at least an old-style cell phone, a significant climb from America’s 65% cellphone ownership rate in 2004, and its 35% smartphone rate in 2011.
Not only are people buying more smartphones than ever before, they’re also spending more time using them. According to a 2016 report by Comscore, people now spend the vast majority of online time on a mobile device; total digital tech usage time is now split 65/35% between mobile devices and desktops, up drastically from mobile’s marginal lead of 53/47% in 2013.
It’s clear now that technology no longer just responds to our needs, but actively influences them. As mobile technology evolves into a cheaper, more accessible version of itself, telecom companies worldwide will have to adapt strategy in answer to the ensuing global craving for mobile devices. If we want to stay at the forefront of tech enablement and supply, data carriers must emphasize streamlining access to new features for mobile data, such as the upcoming rollout of 5G service.