Touchscreen smartphones are the thing in the U.S. this year, with sales growing so rapidly it would give the Ares I-X a run for its money. And next year the pace of the change is going to be even faster. Welcome to the touchscreen era.
Comscore's data looks at the three months ending August of this year versus the same period last year, and the numbers pretty much speak for themselves: Among U.S. smartphone subscribers aged 13 and over, some 33.8 million owned regular push-button smartphones, against 23.8 million owning touchscreen ones. While that data looks stacked in favor of regular push-button phones, check out the growth rate. Smartphone ownership grew a whopping 63% over last year, proving this is the smartphone age all right—dumbphone sales simply can't compete with that growth. And touchscreen smartphone sales exploded 159% at the same time, which is incredible.
The launchpad for this explosive growth is the iPhone, of course, with 33% of the market share. LG's Dare and Voyager, somewhat surprisingly came in second and third with 8.7% and 7.8% of the market, BlackBerry's Storm was next at 7% and Android only gets a 7th place rank with just 3.6% share for the T-Mobile G1. This, with the exception of LG's devices, tallies roughly with experience—you often see someone with an iPhone in public, and the Storm's a pretty regular sight too. It also makes sense when you see how much more capable these units are as convergent devices than regular smartphones (a fact reflected in dropping single-use iPod sales), with the touchscreen facilitating game-playing, movie-watching, and so on—much more capably than non-touch smartphones. And with prices dropping, they're penetrating even more of the market.
The trend is most definitely going to continue in this direction. There's a hoard of Android phones about to hit, and Qualcomm (which makes much of the high-tech jiggery pokery that goes into advanced mobile phones) is predicting that next year there will be a step-change in pricing. The average sale price for the chipsets inside smartphones drops roughly 3% per year, as economies of scale and increasing expertise kick in. But next year the company sees a "substantially higher" drop likely. It's also predicting that the Snapdragon processor, in smartphones like Sony Ericsson's X10, will really take off—thanks to its significantly higher power and better graphics performance.
With news like this, all those nay-sayers who think the iPhone and its ilk aren't worth it will have to change their tune. Mobile phones have come a long way since their birth, and we've already moved from the analog into the digital era. What on Earth is the next era going to be? 3-D displays?