There is plenty of talk in the popular media about the smartphone age and how it has changed the way that we live our lives, but it is not until you head out to go to work or to do some shopping and you accidentally leave your smartphone at home that you realise just how much.
What’s the time? What was it you were supposed to pick up at the supermarket? Is there enough money in the bank? What time is the next train? These are just a few of the questions that might cross your mind for which you will instinctively use your smartphone for the answer.
A little context
A survey by Deloitte at the end of last year looked at more than 4,000 UK adults and found that 85% now own a smartphone, and of these, 90% admit that they keep their phone within reach 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
There has been plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth that smartphones are “taking over our lives”, and there are certainly downsides to our obsession. Staring at your smartphone while crossing a road or driving a car are sure-fire ways to put yourself in hospital or worse.
However, the point is that the online world is massively important in a whole variety of ways, whether it is for keeping the wheels of commerce turning, keeping in contact with friends, staying abreast of current affairs, or simply playing a game or listening to music. A smartphone is the most simple and convenient conduit to that online world, so perhaps it is only natural that we should all have one close to hand. Here, we take a look at the ways in which smartphones have become a natural part of life.
More than a third of the world’s population is on social media, and that includes more than two billion on Facebook alone. This was one of the first applications to really take the smartphone world by storm, and people were chatting on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and the like via mobile apps even before mobile web surfing overtook desktop as the platform of choice.
The social media phenomenon means that we stay in contact with people with whom we might otherwise lose touch, and that’s great, but it has broader commercial applications. Think about that number again – more than two billion people. Where else can any business reach that sort of audience? Any business that is not taking advantage of social media marketing must be mad.
The rise of adult gaming
Adult gaming refers to those games and apps that are designed for over-18s. This includes the huge and ever-growing online casino sector. The idea of the casino as a place where sophisticated adults can unwind, have some fun, and even win some money is nothing new. However, the growth of mobile casinos UK via smartphone apps in particular has brought it to new audiences and a wider demographic.
Games are the most downloaded type of smartphone app, and the interesting point is that these are not just games in the traditional sense of pastimes for children. They are games downloaded by people of all ages and backgrounds. Look around you on a commuter train and you will see 50% of your fellow travellers winding down by playing a game on their mobile. From casino games to social games to sports games, the developers have been quick to react to this new market of more mature mobile gamers.
The applications just keep growing
Sometimes, a new type of tech comes along, and it will be heralded as “the new smartphone”. By this, people suggest that it will become as ubiquitous as the smartphone, and might even replace it. However, this seems increasingly improbable. Take voice search as an example. When Amazon released the Echo a couple of years ago, everyone, not least the likes of Microsoft and Google, was taken by surprise at its popularity.
Two years on, voice search is here to say, and Alexa will doubtless be followed by daughters or indeed sons. But here’s the point – voice search is just a piece of software, and it can reside just as easily in your smartphone. The same can be said for VR. Who really needs to buy an expensive virtual reality system, when you can simply get a peripheral headset for your smartphone?
Every new technological advance only strengthens the bond that we have with our phones. The most successful businesses are the ones that are quickest to recognise the fact.