Cheaper smartphones are need of hour

Special to Times of Oman

The need of the hour is to make smartphone affordable to common man  globally. The need of the hour is to make a universal and coordinated effort to do it.

The world witnessed the creation of a global consortium for developing the Android operating system a few years back. This could well be the path to follow for making cheaper smartphones available to buyers worldwide.

The critical issue of enhancing battery life of smartphones is also to be taken care of. As pundits are putting heavy emphasis on broadband to engineer  the all round socio-economic growth  in the 21st century, these issues need to be sorted out quickly.

Let us first analyse the reason of smartphone being  presented as  key to the spread  of broadband.
Industry statistics reveals that presently there are almost nine billion Internet-connected devices in the world.

Needless to say that these are the platforms through which broadband service are available.

Out of these 9 billion devices almost seven billion use cellular connection and serve 3.3 billion people.
According to a Morgan Stanley estimate, there were 1.5 billion smartphones globally at the end of 2014.

Ericsson has predicted smartphone figures to touch 4 billion by 2018.  And that is not all. Industry predicts that there would be 1 trillion net-connected devices by 2025 and if the present trend continues, significant portion of those would be smartphones.

But, why is the smartphone so important? Why not other devices?  Simply because the smartphone is the device through which a person can fulfill his business as well as entertainment needs.  

Apart from calling or texting, the user is connected to the virtual world through broadband. With this tiny device he can email, browse the Internet, prepare reports with diagrams and charts for business presentations and do much more. Live streaming, music, movie, camera and games are there to keep him entertained.

Application stores are there with thousands of third party applications to take care of his problems. Pundits rightly put it as mobile computing. Truly the Age of Fourth Screen has arrived.

Therefore, the smartphone alone could render almost all the services  broadband likes to offer. Even the economically weaker segment of the developing world is starting to get mobile handsets.

The African continent has been registering an 80 per cent annual growth in the use of smartphones.  So making affordable smartphones available to the masses is the way out.

Though the prices have come down significantly in last couple of years but smartphones are still relatively less affordable than feature phones.  

Some companies are trying to make cheaper handsets but the need of hour is a coordinated effort by big boys of the industry. UN Broadband Commission could also help.  Intel, HTC, Motorola, Samsung etc joined hands for Android Open Source Project and today Android reigns has an over 81 per cent share of the global operating system market.

This kind of initiative is badly required to make smartphones affordable to the bottom half of society. Enhancing battery life of smartphone is another critical area to look into.

Companies like Amprius have made elaborate plans to do it. Broadband would be real engineer to global growth with these twin successes.

The author is a senior journalist and has specialised in technology.  All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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