Once upon time, personal computers and mobile phones were perfectly distinct devices that performed completely different tasks. While personal computers had operating systems that enabled users to surf the Internet, send e-mail and run various software applications such as spreadsheets, videogames and databases, mobile phones were primarily used to make phone calls and exchange text messages. With the advent of smartphones, the blurring of boundaries between personal computers and mobile phones has completely revolutionized our society. As Sarwar and Soomro (216) pointed out, smartphones are mobile phones with advanced features that make it possible for consumers to take pictures, view images, play videos, download web applications, surf the Web and listen to music. Being practical, functional and convenient, smartphones are becoming increasingly popular among consumers across the world, to the extent that as of 2015, global smartphone sales amounted to 1, 4 billion units (Statista).
Mobile technology has influenced nearly every aspect of consumers’ daily lives, including the way in which they socialize, communicate, shop, work and obtain information. On the one hand, smartphones are widely appreciated for their ability to keep users connected all the time, make their lives easier and more efficient and promote creativity. Thanks to social media websites, smartphone owners can improve their visibility and keep themselves informed on the latest trends and events from all over the world, thus developing their personalities and gaining new knowledge on a daily basis. While ten years ago we all had to crowd around our televisions to hear what was happening, now we have our smartphones. On the other hand, smartphone technology has made it very easy for users of all ages to gain access to inappropriate content and engage in potentially dangerous activities – and with more and more children demanding a smartphone, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to monitor the content to which their little ones are exposed. Similarly to consumers, businesses and governments have also been profoundly affected by smartphones. A decade ago, most business owners knew that having a captivating and up-to-date website was key to gaining a competitive advantage over their rivals. However, with smartphone penetration rates growing every year, setting up a visually appealing website is no longer enough. In today’s fast-paced environment, businesses that fail to promote their products and services on mobile platforms and whose websites are not mobile-friendly are likely to suffer from significant financial losses. Businesses are presented with two options: they can either have websites that look like apps when they are accessed from a smartphone, or have a team professional app developers create an application for them. As Lowe pointed out, organizations that refuse to fail to target mobile users will always be limited to Internet users who are sitting in front of their computers.
As for governments, smartphone technology has made it necessary for policymakers to rethink the way in which the government interacts with citizens by developing ad hoc mobile websites and applications that offer instant access to a wide range of services and information. However, it is also worth mentioning that similarly to personal computers, smartphones are vulnerable to viruses, data leakage and identify theft – to name but a few – which is why governments across the world have had to resort to ad hoc measures to protect their officials’ mobile devices.
In conclusion, smartphone technology has had a monumental impact on society, businesses and governments, bringing both benefits and disadvantages. Similarly to previous groundbreaking technologies, smartphones have been affecting multiple aspects of our daily lives, thus leaving individuals, businesses and governments with no choice but to take advantage of their outstanding functions and do what they can to keep their devices as secure as possible.
- Lowe, Scott. Five ways that smartphones enhance your business. 2011. Web.
- Sarwar, Muhammad and Tariq Rahim Soomro. “Impact of Smartphone’s on Society”. European Journal of Scientific Research. 98.2 (March, 2013): 216-226.
- Statista. Number of smartphones sold to end users worldwide from 2007 to 2015 (in million units). 2016. Web.