Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dial 'S' for Smartphone Surge

At this point in the academic term, no doubt hundreds of professors are sick and tired of seeing students pull out their smartphones during class lectures. Profs may be fighting a losing battle.

NPD DisplaySearch, a market research firm, predicts some 567 million smartphones will be shipped this year, and that number will nearly double by 2016. Of this year’s shipments, close to 177 million will be to first-time smartphone owners, many of them teens and college students. As the baby boomlet (kids born to the famed Baby Boom generation) begins to peter out in the college enrollment ranks over the next few years, NPD sees the number of new smartphone buyers dwindling somewhat.

On the other hand, the number of people replacing existing smartphones with new, jazzy models will skyrocket. Because many people tend to buy new phones whenever their current two-year mobile contract is up, it’s expected phone manufacturers will work with carriers to offer shorter contract periods to encourage more frequent upgrades.

Faculty might as well get used to the fact that students will bring—and use—these devices in the classroom. But they’re not the only ones who need to get up to speed.

The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Europe blog reports that a study by London-based investment banking firm GP Bullhound shows many companies, particularly retailers, haven’t built mobile apps and optimization into their e-commerce offerings yet. As a consequence, they may be missing out on sales. Purchases from mobile devices, according to the report, accounted for 11% of all 2011’s holiday season sales, almost twice as much as the year before.

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