Smartphones: over .99 billion served

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.