Mobile phones have come a long way since Motorola’s Cooper showed off his analogue brick back in 1973. Since then they’ve gotten smaller, cheaper, cuter and more a part of your personal identity…just ask the kids.
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– take photos
– check email
– watch videos
– browse the web
– use GPS (like they get lost between home, school)
– download stuff
– listen to music
– take videos
– download ringtones, screensavers
– play games
– text, IM
– make calls…tons and tons of calls

But to us they’re still phones.

Sales have grown steadily.

Mobile World – With a worldwide population of about 7 billion people, it is almost impossible to fathom that by 2013 we might have more than 5.5 billion mobile phone subscribers. Obviously more than a few users will have more than one device. Source – Strategic Analytics

Some people are so attached to their mobile devices they have to have a couple of them.

Smartphones Emerge

The Blackberry (Crackberry to early addicts) started folks thinking they had their hands on more than just phones back in 2000.

Thanks largely to RIM a new generation, new classification of mobile phones emerged…the smartphone.

That was okay until Apple changed the landscape.

Ok so Apple isn’t a volume phone leader (Nokia makes more units in a day than Apple sells in a couple of month). But demand has been excellent.

The Gotta Have Standard – If you’re a teen or tween or just someone who has to flash around his/her current status symbol then you’re one of the millions who plunked your credit card down at the store and purchased an iPhone. And you also switched from “them” to AT&T. Source — Informa

It was so sexy everyone brought out their clone(s).

Palm “unveiled” theirs at CES.

Palm Pre – Vowing to come back from their near-death experience, Palm introduced their “iPhone killer” at CES. Cute unit and much lauded operating system. Question is how many dollar bills will they wrap around each unit to move them out of the Sprint stores and how many “gotta have” apps will be ready on the day of introduction.

Sorta, kinda cool (of course units won’t ship until June) but they wanted to save what little bit of Palm franchise they had so they used their own OS.

Unless you’re “in the biz” you probably didn’t know – or care — there were mobile OS options. You know – Symbian, Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm OS (nope it’s not dead…yet) and loose change cross-platform options.

No one cared until Apple found a secret to making big bucks in the phone industry.

They make a few bucks on the iPhone but that’s chump change.

They sweet talked our kids into using their iPhones with iTunes.

Suddenly they were downloading music, videos, ringtones, you name it.

The AT&T bill went up.

The iTunes bill went up.

Since it’s only a so-so phone, they figured they’d offer other really cool stuff for the device and…BAM!!!

They decided they couldn’t make all the apps themselves – not even Apple people are that smart – they decided “what the h***.”

Open for Business

They opened another online store and offered you apps from other folks…something like five gazillion different ones!

Yeah Apple has to approve them.

Yeah they get a healthy cut from each sale…50 cents here, 50 cents there. Suddenly we’re talking serious bucks!

RIM may have the definitive business smartphone but they saw that Apple had a winner. So they introduced a couple of their own clones of the iPhone

Beyond Business – RIM’s BlackBerry may appeal to serious minded business people but it doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play for them. The company rolled out the Storm and Bold as part of their response to Apple’s iPhone. The company also helped firms develop business/entertainment applications and set up a store to move the merchandise.

And their own app store.

Nokia, MS and Google have all opened their own app stores and are busy helping developers offer fun, business packages for everyone’s smartphone.

VCs have set up funds to grab their chunks of the iPhone pie.

People like Amdocs are prepping products so AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and the other carriers can also get more of the revenue.

No one really knows how big the smartphone apps and services business is (yeah wild numbers are thrown around).

You, Phones

Azuki Systems and Informa give us a few hints about the market:

– 78% of Americans own cell phones
– Mobile phone demand to grow 11%
– 23% of all mobile users will use mobile social networks by 2012
– Global handset market will grow 3% this year
– 30% of iPhone 3G buyers switched to AT&T from other carriers
– there were 4 bln mobile subscriptions by year-end ‘08
– Average US mobile subscriber sends 357 SMS messages a month
– Smartphone market grew 52% in 2008
– Global cell phone market grew 11% last year
– 266 mln wireless subscribers in the US by 2013
– Location-based mobile social networking to generate $3.3 bln by 2012
– 40% of all Internet users will have mobile Internet access by 2012
– Only 3% recycle their mobile phones (darn!)

– 165 mln multimedia phones to sell in China by 2011
– 250 mln GPS-enabled phones to sell by 2010
– 34% of US households to use only mobile services by 2011
– 36 mln femtocells to ship by 2012
– 4 mln users to access mobile maps in 2007
– 43 mln US and European users to download mobile maps in 2012
– 45% of mobile connections to be WCDMA HSDPA by 2010
– 52 mln TD-SCDMA subscribers in China by 2011
– 95 mln ultra-mobile devices to sell by 2012
– Cellular capex to reach $23 bln by 2012
– Men spend 458 minutes a month on wireless, women – 453 minutes
– MMS market in Western Europe in 2010
– Mobile fund transfers to generate $8 bln for operators by 2012
– Mobile gaming in Asia-Pacific to reach $18.8 bln by 2011
– Premium mobile content to generate $44 bln in 2011

Ok so even in a tough economy there’s a huge demand.

Multimedia Growth – Not many people flash or brag about their plain old mobile phone anymore but when it comes to their multimedia units that is a whole different story. More importantly they use them for almost everything…and sometimes even to make a phone call. Source – iSuppli

The great thing about the mobile and connected world is that folks just know more about you.

After all, Google’s Street service shows people where you live (folks aren’t too happy about that sometimes).

Heck, Google even lets you track folks with Latitude (kids aren’t too happy with that one either).

More About You

Harris Interactive using “old fashioned” research found that:

– Young adults are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to own a mobile phone than a landline: among those 18-34, 89% own a cell phone or smart phone, but only 57% have a landline

– Young mobile phone owners are considerably more likely to use their phones for more than just phone calls (74% of adults ages 18-34 versus 20% of those ages 55 and up)

– Young mobile phone owners are likely to feel that their phones have strengthened their personal relationships – 60% of those 18-34 vs. 37% of those ages 35+

– Women are more likely than men to say their phones have strengthened their personal relationships – 66% vs. 60%

– Women are more likely than men to now use their phones to send or receive text messages (38% vs. 33%), and to take/send/receive photos (27% vs. 21%)

– Men are more likely than women to use their phones to check email (12% vs. 7%), access the Internet for something other than search and download (11% vs. 5%), and find information using an internet search engine (9% vs. 6%)

Clone Wars

Fighting off the clones. Apple is readying (according to “reliable sources”) new units like:

– iPhone nano — $99 starter phone with things like IR, mScan, Near Field Communications (NFC), 2mp camera, GPS and 3G. For under $100 you’ll only get 8GB of storage but come on folks!

– iPhone 2nd Gen — $499, 32GB storage, still/video camera with zoom, IR, mScan, NFC, music, video, TV and ???

Battle Ready — The Apple iPhone and the huge army of iPhone apps present a formidable front in the smartphone wars. Device manufacturers, carriers and app stores all have their consumer champions. Some people don’t even chose sides. They have a couple of devices and services to meet their business and entertainment needs. Source – 20th Century Fox

A gazillion more iPhone apps will be introduced and a few hundred million downloads will take place.

The MS, Blackberry, Nokia, Google and carrier stores will be moving their apps to mobile device users.

Forget anything?

Oh yeah…Palm will roll out the Pre mid-year with their really sexy OS.

Just not sure how many developers are going to rush to develop apps for their installed customer base of …ZERO!

But they do have an infusion of $100 million and a commitment to the platform for the next 10 years.

As Yoda said, “Mmm. Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing. How embarrassing.”