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Smartphone sales exploded in 2012

This article was first published on 29 January 2013.

Let me make three relatively straightforward points in relation to this news as reported in The Age.  It’s worth stopping for a moment just to reflect on each of these.

The first is that smart phones are much more than just phones. They are, in effect, small mobile computing platforms and provide people with more computing power in their pocket than was once possible in the world’s largest mainframes. They’ve already proved to be platforms for massive industry convergence and disruption and there’s no reason to expect that to change in the future.

The second point is that 700 million units shipped in a single year is a phenomenal number of devices.  700 million is in fact more people than live in the Euro zone and the U.S. combined.  Remember also  that the world’s total population is estimated currently to be just a little over 7 billion.  That means that within the space of a single year one in ten people on the planet bought a smart phone.  The rapid diffusion of these devices is placing enormous computing power in the hands of an increasingly large share of the world’s population, annihilating space and time, and transforming the economics and business models of a number of industries.

The third and final point is Nokia’s share of the smart phone market which has dropped from 16% in 2011 to just 5% in 2012.  Nokia is a great case study for how quickly things can change and how failure to read the winds of change can result in massive erosion of value and competitive position.

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