Phones turn status symbol during 2010

The new generation devices was picked up by not just the wealthy or forever-experimenting geeks but also became a must-have productivity tool for business executives and young professionals as well.

Led by a sharp drop in prices, the rise of social networking phenomenon, the need to stay connected while being on the move, aggressive marketing by handset manufacturers as well as peer pressure, smartphones became the hottest gizmo this year. All other sought-after gadgets like portable music players, digital cameras, radios, gaming and navigation devices were left behind in the race as smartphones offered the ultimate convergence solution for all needs and moods of the consumer.

Mobile phones ceased to remain mere telephonic devices as it started meaning different things to different people and playing myriad roles in their lives. Those who could only dream of buying expensive phones were rescued by a number of  'desi' and Chinese brands that were selling smartphones for even less than Rs 4,000.

According to industry figures, the smartphone market in India had expanded to around 7 to 7.5 million handsets in 2010 growing 30 per cent year-on-year. In the next five years, smartphones are expected to have 25 per cent share in the overall mobile phone market which has around 600 million connections. Globally it is estimated that there are nearly 500 million smartphone owners, predicted to go up to 1 billion by 2013. Following the lead of Apple and RIM , makers of iconic i-Phone and executive-class Blackberry, a number of handset manufacturers quickly made a beeline for the lucrative smartphone market in the country in 2010. Giving Google's Android software platform a competition, Samsung launched its cheaper 'bada' operating system with a vision of "providing a smartphone for everyone."

Leap forward

However, owning a Blackberry, which provides exclusive instant messenger and encrypted mail delivery services via a dedicated server, and the application-rich i-Phone retained their cult status. Even before many Indian consumers could update their basic handset, technology took another leap toward the end of this year with the introduction of giant smartphones, labelled as tablets. As 3G services are set to roll out early 2011, the smartphone phenomenon is all set up for an upsurge, marking the evolution of a new era in telecommunications and information management.

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