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.


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