Smartphones: over .99 billion served

Summary:The consumer electronics industry will ship more than 1 billion (!) smartphones this year, accounting firm Deloitte says. But what is a "smartphone," exactly?

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Manufacturers of consumer electronics will ship more than 1 billion smartphones this year, according to a CNET report on as-yet-unreleased research from accounting firm Deloitte. And that number could reach as high as 2 billion, depending on how you define "smartphone."

The firm won't release all of its numbers until next Tuesday, but there are a few things of interest until then.

What you need to know:

  • One in five smartphone owners rarely or never connect to the Internet. That's about 400 million in total.
  • The reasons are myriad: some don't understand it; some don't want it; some can't afford it; some aren't served by it in their area.
  • In other words, there are many smartphone users out there whose needs would be satisfied by feature phones -- but either can't buy them (obsolete) or don't want to (desire for apps, touch, etc.). The use case remains, but the devices are hard to come by.
  • Unsurprisingly, there's no agreed-upon definition of smartphone. Touch input or buttons? Email, or web, or apps? The term is quite broad in practice. Which makes it all a bit ambiguous: if there's no "dumb" phone anymore, is any given "smartphone" really smart, relatively speaking?

Fascinating, particularly since so many wireless carriers bundle data plans with a smartphone purchase. It is a practice that is tremendously lucrative (just ask cable TV operators), but a major source of waste for the buyer.

Topics: CES, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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