How the Smartphone Overtook the Feature Phone

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Remember when a smartphone was cutting edge? I still remember when someone at my office brought one in to show it off. At that time, I had only heard of a “smartphone”; my feature phone at the time didn’t even have a camera!

The concept of having a computer in your pocket sounded like science fiction. However, it was recently announced that for the first time, smartphone sales exceeded feature phone sales. I kind of thought they already did, but none-the-less let’s explore how we get here…

The Smartphone short history

BlackBerry set the stage back in 2003 with its 6210. This think looks like a dinosaur but at the time very cutting edge. Reserved for executives/ upper management-types, or at least that’s how I remember it. I was too expensive for me to even consider unless granted one from work.


In 2007, Apple launched the first generation iPhone. What Apple did for the smartphone was make the touchscreen less of a luxury and more of a common denominator. Not only did the touch screen resonate but so did the style. Compared to BlackBerry, Apple introduced a light and sleek design that caught everyone’s attention. This was the tipping point for the smartphone.


2011 was a real breakout year for the smartphone. In addition to Apple, companies like Samsung and LG commanded a strong presence as smartphones flooded the market place. Smartphones were available with better cameras, more memory, faster processors, and innovative designs. There were options and prices started to come down as competition increased.

The Smartphone takes over

At the end of the first quarter of this year, shipments for smartphone overtook feature phones. What led to this stunning change of events?

Well, competition. There are number of players in the market all hungry for market share. The technology isn’t so foreign as it was back in 2003, and the idea of owning a smartphone isn’t a stretch either. But one of the biggest factors has to be the rise of developing nations and their demand of smartphone technology.

The draw to a more digital life is now global. It already has for some time, but the sales report for the first quarter really emphasizes the market shift.

The feature phone just didn’t die – it’s just the technology available at the time. As basic economics kicked in over time, smartphone technology just become more accessible. These are exciting times but time doesn’t stand still. The demand for progress produces innovation.

So what will take over the smartphone?

I’m afraid that smartphone’s marketplace dominance will be somewhat short-lived. Much like that days of car phones and fax machines, the smartphone will see a sunset sooner than later. Wearable technologies, like Google Glass, are primed to leap over the smartphone.


It’s just the natural evolution of technology. Nothing really stays constant. There will always be a demand for lighter, sleeker, more powerful, and more integrated personal technology.

I consider this the theme of technology. It’s more ingrained in our life than ever before. We might even live to see the day when personal technology is just not something external but internal. I’m referencing human augmentation or becoming a cyborg.

But having computers implanted inside us seems pretty far fetched…just like the automobile, television, personal computer, and now the smart phone.

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