This week I delivered 2 training sessions at Adelaide Digital Hub, both sessions were for people who were very new to the internet and technology. Doing these kinds of education sessions reminds me that not everyone speaks the geeky language that I do. I was chatting away about ‘smartphones’ when one of the students asked a great question.
What makes a mobile phone a smartphone?
As is often the case the internet offers up many different definitions depending on which website you read. The definition I gave during the training session and will repeat here is a smartphone is a device that can make phone call and can access the internet and run applications.
The brick sized mobile phones used in the early days of the technology did not access the internet, to be honest they were rarely able to make phone calls. Then mobile phones began to get smaller and smarter. Whilst there were many phones that could access the internet the cost of the data was so prohibitively expensive that most people rarely ventured online using their mobile phone. The other problem was the size and quality of the screen, they were small and basically rubbish. It wasn’t until the Blackberry and finally the iPhone that smartphones became generally affordable and actually usable.
Smartphones not only access the internet, they can send and receive emails and run applications that do specific tasks. The popularity was also helped by mobile phone companies making the cost of data more affordable over time. The improvements in the technology and the lowering of the cost helped make smartphones accessible to more and more people.
A survey done by Department Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy in 2012 of 3000 mobile phone owners, found 76% of respondents had a smartphone. A different survey found as of February this year, almost half the Australian population have a smartphone. The same research found 9.2 million Australians went online via their mobile phone and 4.4 million accessed the internet using a tablet in the six months to May 2012.
So it’s easy to see that we Australians love our smartphones, and the numbers are only growing. I believe their popularity is in no small part of their ease of use. The most popular smartphones can be used with relatively little instruction by a novice and really that is what makes any piece of technology popular, it’s easy to use and it does something useful (or at least entertaining).
image credit: “an evening playing ‘smartphone’ pub quiz with the exeter twitterati!” philcampbell, flickr.com