As technology evolves, so does the cell phone market. From devices and network plans to software technology and purchasing patterns, everything about this massive industry is changing. So, what does it mean for the future?
The Evolution of the Cell Phone Industry
The cell phone industry is quite fluid at the moment. While there’s no risk of the industry falling apart, it’s pretty clear that the future of the industry will be much different. In fact, if you were to catch a glimpse of the marketplace 10 years down the road, you probably wouldn’t recognize it.
Here are a few of the evolutions we’re currently experiencing:
- Death of Network Contracts
In the past, you would go to a company like AT&T or Verizon and sign a two-year contract for wireless service. In return, they would give you a brand new smartphone at a heavily subsidized price. These carriers were able to do this because they had you locked into a 24-month contract that allowed them to recoup some of the cost of the phone each month.
T-Mobile decided to disrupt the industry a few years ago. Instead of offering subsidized phone prices and two-year contracts, they announced that their services would be contract-free. Customers simply have to buy their phones at full price (or pay monthly installment fees), and they get cheap monthly rates.
And while T-Mobile was the only provider offering this option for many years, Verizon and AT&T are now on board. And with the three biggest wireless networks all ditching traditional contracts, it’s evident that this is the future of the market.
- The Rise of Unlocked Smartphones
In the past, if you wanted to buy a smartphone you had to visit your wireless network’s store and they’d show you which options they had. While you could technically purchase a phone from a third-party, the networks would not publicly advocate this type of behavior. If something happened to the phone – or it didn’t work in the first place – you were simply out of luck. Times are changing, though.
As traditional wireless contracts become a thing of the past, customers are now finding it advantageous to purchase unlocked devices from other sources. This detaches you from a provider and gives you more control.
“If you come across a better offer, you simply put a different SIM card inside and that’s it,” says Megan of Cheap-Phones.com. “Unlocked phones allow you to switch carriers as often as you wish at no additional cost and with no explanations required.”
- Changing Technology
In the coming years, we can also expect to see some pretty incredible developments in smartphone technology. This includes things like augmented reality, flexible screens, built-in projectors, and even hologram and 3D technology.
“It’s exciting to expect these features in our future smartphones but I wonder what it will take for us to get there,” says tech blogger Michael Poh. “I’m talking about the price we may have to pay in exchange for such awesome features in our smartphones.”
Will smartphones continue to be the ubiquitous devices we know them as today, or will something else suddenly appear? If they hold their value and new features like those mentioned above are added, it’s possible that smartphones could increase in price and phase out other devices like tablets and personal computers.
The Future of the Industry
As you can see, the future of the industry will look much different than the present state. Aside from changes in actual mobile device technology, everything from how phones are purchased to the structure of wireless network contracts will look completely different.
Whether you’re a customer or a business in the industry, it’s imperative that you stay abreast of changes to ensure you’re aware of what’s next.