There is a very good chance you are reading this on your smartphone. More likely you are one of the 1.75 billion persons who are in reachable distance of their smart phone. Or at the very least you fall in the category of being one of the 6 billion people who have a mobile device. Whichever category you belong to, it is clear that smartphones are continually changing our lives and the world around us.
The average life expectancy of a smartphone is 21 months (significantly lower than their former three-year average lifespan). This should not be seen as a bad thing. If smartphones were designed to last well past a two-year contract, manufactures would hesitate to unveil new models of phones with the latest advancements, and consumers would hesitate to purchase them if they had a phone that continued to “get them by.”
Smartphones have a faster replacement time than any other electronic device on the market, which allows more users to have new and cheaper phones while simultaneously allowing the media industry as a whole to advance faster than ever. Consumers around the world are closer to becoming technological equals with each other now more than ever thanks to smartphones.
In the past year the penetration of smartphones have reached more than 72% of the entire mobile market and estimates show the U.S. growing significantly this year. This increase in market penetration is not limited to only the US and other developed countries; of the world’s six billion mobile-phone subscriptions, 73% are now in the developing world, even though those countries account for just 20% of the world’s GDP. This equality is helping move content faster than ever, media producers are no longer held back by fears they once had of alienating audiences.
Last month the FCC held a roundtable discussion to address these changes and revisit the current exemption of the mobile broadband market from Net Neutrality regulations saying, “The growth of smartphones and LTE — and the constant change in our ecosystem — is the clearest evidence we should retain a mobile-specific approach, because it has worked so well for consumers.”
After the round table several key organizations and corporations had their own response. The Writers Guild of America West released a statement saying:
If the Commission does not apply the full complement of Net Neutrality rules to mobile broadband, wireless carriers will be able to pick winners and losers. They will have the power to decide what applications and services are available to consumers and on what terms. Data caps and current pricing models have not yet made mobile Internet service a viable substitute for all video consumption, but the failure to apply rules equally dooms the platform.
Google and Microsoft responded with similar claims, stating that Net Neutrality should apply regardless of whether you’re accessing the Internet using a cable connection, a wireless service or any other technology.
Technology in mobile broadband is changing rapidly and with it, we are seeing new trends in media consumption. In a recent Nielsen report the average time adults viewed media on their smartphones as gone up 77% since last year. To put this into perspective, TV viewing has gone down 4%, and Internet access via computer has gone up just 2%. Even as an increase in mobile broadband use is advancing our world into the digital age, it is clear that mobile technologies that were once a luxury are now necessities.
We are fortunate to live in an age where we are able to reach technological saturation in the mobile market at unparallel speeds. Because of this the FCC must recognize this growth and proactively adopt regulations for ISPs to promote Net Neutrality on the mobile broadband level. Only then will we see continued progression in mobile technologies that will benefit all consumers and media producers well into the heart of the 21st century.
– Aaron Sprengeler