This post is written by Lauren McCarty, an account executive at Racepoint Group. You can follow Lauren on Twitter at @McLauren84.
The media depicts stereotypical East Coasters as sarcastic, impatient and culturally enlightened. I never endorse stereotypes, but I’m here to tell you one East Coast fable holds some weight: incessant, obsessive smartphone use. And according to a new report from In-Stat, the entire country will soon follow the trend. In-Stat predicts that by 2012, over half the U.S. handset market will be comprised of smartphones. Android is expected to maintain its position as the leading operating system, and somewhat surprisingly, Nokia is predicted to sell more smartphones than Apple.
An Indiana native transplanted in the Racepoint Boston office, I noticed the smartphone divide as soon as I arrived in Boston in 2008. At the time, almost no one in Indianapolis had a smartphone, and if they did, it was a clunky Treo. The deciding factors when choosing a new phone were keyboard size, sleek design and color. Qwerty texting still reigned as the primary required feature, and while some phones offered mobile browsers and primitive apps, users were terrified of the unknown potential costs. In fact, I witnessed friends accidentally open their feature phone mobile browsers and shriek as they tried to exit as quickly as possible, convinced their monthly bill would instantly triple.
I resisted the smartphone peer pressure until last year, when I bought an iPhone 4. Unsurprisingly, it’s rarely left my palm since. I just returned from a vacation in Phoenix, and I noticed a decidedly different phone culture out West. In coffee shops and restaurants people read the paper and chatted with friends, tables unencumbered by the usual pile of black smartphones found in East Coast hang outs. Within my group of Midwestern-born friends, only two of six had smartphones, and no one had an iPhone. I really stuck out like a sore thumb checking Facebook every two hours and constantly complaining about insufficient broadband.
But it appears my initial observations are aging quickly as the smartphone tide begins to crest. Experts were hesitant to confirm the smartphone’s coming domination, with so many rural regions still favoring feature phones, but the new In-Stat report confirms it’s taking over. While some people will continue to resist, the future is clear: Smartphones are unstoppable, and the way we communicate with each other and access information has been forever changed.