The smartphone effect
Smartphones are taking over the world. Sales of the devices outstripped PC shipments in the second half of 2010 and have maintained momentum ever since. As consumer smartphone adoption accelerates, smartphone apps are selling in ever greater numbers. According to a new report from Juniper Research, more than 31 billion were downloaded to mobile devices in 2011. By 2016, it predicts that consumers will be spending $52 billion on apps. No wonder Pricewaterhouse Coopers US has identified interacting with customers via mobile channels as one of the prime indicators of a high Digital IQ and a key attribute of top-performing companies (see page 6).
Businesses use mobile apps, too; sometimes in preference to existing items of business equipment, such as scanners (see page 13) or dictation recorders (see page 28). On the face of it, a smartphone camera function and dictation apps are a potential threat to manufacturers of dedicated devices. Or would be if they provided the same functionality and performance. Until that happens, people’s experiences of capturing images on a smartphone are more likely to raise awareness of the benefits of digitisation and drive demand for dedicated personal scanners that produce much better results.
The impact of dictation apps on recorder sales is less certain as the dictation market is mature, with growth in sales of portables primarily coming from users who switch from analogue (tapebased) to digital recording. One industry for which digitisation is a threat rather than an opportunity is the stationery and office products sector. According to a new KeyNote report, the value of the UK stationery market has declined by about one third since 2008. Based on the level of innovation on display at Paperworld in January (see review on page 31), it is hard to see how this trend is going to be reversed.