Computers Down, Smartphones Up

Further proof that the world is changing: a market analysis from Canalys shows that smartphone sales have passed computer sales for the first time. There’s even a chart!

Charts: is there anything they CAN'T do?

Here’s the money quote from the report:

In 2011 we saw a fall in demand for netbooks, and slowing demand for notebooks and desktops as a direct result of rising interest in pads,” said Chris Jones, Canalys VP and Principal Analyst. “But pads have had negligible impact on smart phone volumes and markets across the globe have seen persistent and substantial growth through 2011. Smart phone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone. In the space of a few years, smart phones have grown from being a niche product segment at the high-end of the mobile phone market to becoming a truly mass-market proposition. The greater availability of smart phones at lower price points has helped tremendously, but there has been a driving trend of increasing consumer appetite for Internet browsing, content consumption and engaging with apps and services on mobile devices.

In tech terms, this means a couple things. First, the netbook market is roadkill. Netbooks were nothing more than a transitional technology from laptops to tablets. Second, people are consuming media at an ever-increasing rate, and they’re integrating that consumption into their life at all levels.

In cultural and spiritual terms, this information alone is neither good or bad. For the first time in 7 years I finally let my subscription to Magnificat, my daily prayer companion, lapse. Why? Because I have Universalis, and several other apps, on my iPod Touch, and I now use those resources, rather than the printed Magnificat, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Using my PC version of Universalis, I was able to load an entire year of Hours and readings onto my Kindle, which is a comfortable fit for usage at mass. (We’re nowhere near the point where a person can spend Mass peering at a smartphone without getting the hairy eyeball from everyone in the church, and we probably never will be.)

Smartphones and tablets will not completely replace computers for some time yet, but we are starting to see the indications that they very well may. This means the public will be more mobile, and more plugged in, than ever before.

Of course, this also means porn-on-tap, 24/7. It means no escaping work, no escaping social media, no real ability to sever the electronic tether by simply turning off the computer.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • Karen LH

    Actually, I’ve been using a smartphone at daily Mass for a few years (to follow along with the readings) and only got a funny look the first time. I think after that people figured out what I was doing. (I wish I could use it at the Easter Vigil, but won’t because the backlit screen is visible in the dark church, although I think I’ve seen other people do it.)

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Very interesting. A priest at my parent’s parish whips out his iPad to read his homily. I have to give you props for using your phone at mass. I don’t think I’d have the courage to do it, particularly since I’m always telling my CCD students to turn the darn things off.

  • Ron19

    As I mentioned at another post, I use iMissal on my Android Smartphone when I attend Daily Mass at an ethnic parish nearby.

    I get the Order of the Mass, the Readings, and a Homily from Laudette in English. The only thing conspicuous is that I spend a lot of the Mass looking down instead of at the priest; and the fact that I’m the only Caucausion at the Mass. My son-in-law is Wesleyan pastor; he said that years ago he replaced books in the pews with slide projections high on the wall behind him so that people would be forced to look up instead of down during the service.

    Before or after Mass I can read the liturgy of the Hours or the Stations of the Cross. I’m mostly a traditionalist for the Rosary. The phone slips easily in and out of my pocket for the Sign of Peace and Communion. It’s much less bulky and visible than a printed Missal.

    Nobody in the congregation, not even the celebrant, has complained or even commented on my using a phone at Mass. On the other hand, at my registered parish one of the screens they flash on our multimedia Mass assistance video display screens informs me that “You can’t get God from one of these” pictured cell phones. God does have a sense of humor!

    When I was in grade school, pre-Vatican II, it was a big deal to get a St. Joseph Daily Missal with English and Latin visible at the same time. Even when I served Mass, we had a large plasticised card with the Latin prompts and responses, so that we got our words correct and correctly pronounced.

    Nowadays, we have people show up at Mass with eyeglasses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, and even wheelchairs. Use whatever Mass aids you feel appropriate. If somebody disagrees strongly enough with you (hasn’t happened to me yet) they will tell you, and you can prayerfully work something out.

    With love in Jesus Christ,

  • searavens

    Thomas, how do you load the Universalis application for PC onto your Kindle? I’d like to do that.
    BTW, “severing the electronic tether” is hard, isn’t it? For the past few weekends I’ve been on an Internet “fast” from Saturday sun-up to Sunday sundown. But I still have my smartphone and Kindle and television, so I’m not completely electronics-free, meaning that I may be more physically active in doing things around the house during those weekends, but Twitter and news headlines are still calling, calling, calling….

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I can see trying it out during daily mass, definitely. I may just be more self-conscious about it. Interesting to hear that you don’t get any raised eyebrows.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Well, I’m here now too, so I’m obviously not taking my own advice! Electronics have a powerful gravitational field, and once we fall into orbit around them, it’s hard to break free.

    As for Universalis, you’ll need the most recent update (free at the site), but just click the little radial down-arrow in the upper lefthand corer and you’ll find a line for “Create e-book.” It takes a little time to do a full year, but you can also do month by month. Then you just mount your Kindle as a hard drive and drag or copy the new files over to it.

  • Ron19

    Then again, the reason I don’t see any raised eyebrows might be because I’m concentrating on the phone in my hand!