The Smartphone is the New PC

The mobile phone is the new personal computer. The desktop computer is not going away, but the smartphone market is growing fast. Phones are being used as computers by more people and for more purposes. Smartphones are generally cheaper than computers, more convenient because of their portability, and often more useful with the context provided by geolocation.

Already there are more mobile phones than computers connected to the Internet. While a minority of those phones would be considered smartphones, we're seeing a fast-moving landscape where today's high-end phones become next year's mid-range or even low-end phones. With profits from applications growing, we'll see continued subsidies of the hardware and operating systems by manufacturers and carriers, keeping new phones cheap or free.

We're seeing a change in how people use computers. Desktop applications that we use most frequently are centered around communications, rather than the more traditional personal computer task of document creation. In the business world, we file expense reports, approve decisions, or comment on proposals. As consumers, we read reviews, send short notes to friends, and share photos. E-mail is the killer app of the late 20th century, not the word processor or spreadsheet. Both in the business world and in our personal lives, these communication-centered tasks translate effectively into mobile applications.

As smartphones gain widespread adoption, the desktop computer will be relegated to the specialist and elite professional, much as the mini-computer and supercomputer are today. Many of the routine tasks we currently perform on a desktop or laptop, we will be able to accomplish on a smartphone. More importantly, new applications will meet the needs of people who don't use a computer today. Software development will shift toward mobile development as the majority of people who use computers will use them indirectly through a mobile phone. The center of gravity of the software industry will be mobilized.

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