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When Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) opened up Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone sales to the phone carrier's existing customers last week, it sold more iPhones in the first two hours of preorders than it did of any other phone on a launch day. Some analysts estimate there have already been 500,000 total presales.
The sale continues this Thursday, when everyone will be able to order the latest iPhone, as the king of the smartphone market continues to reign.
This zooming interest in the iPhone shows smartphones are no longer just a luxury item for wealthy consumers, or a business tool for busy execs. Social networks, texting and anywhere/anytime access to the Internet have transformed them into a "must-have" device for mainstream consumers.
And smartphones are leaving the PC in the dust.
As researching firm International Data Corp. (IDC) declared in November in its annual report, "The PC-centric era is over." The firm predicted 330 million smartphones would be sold worldwide this year along with 42 million media tablets.
The mobile computing era is bound to offer some of the hottest competition in any industry. Apple's iPhone, Research in Motion Ltd.'s (Nasdaq: RIMM) Blackberry and phones running Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android operating system are fighting for market share. In the tablet world, Samsung, Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Google are hoping to snag some of the spotlight from Apple's iPad.
Also increasingly enticing is the mobile applications market. The number of free and paid apps downloaded each month is soaring, creating a new industry for app developers. The most popular allow users to check news and weather, listen to music, read books, watch movies, and congregate via the Web's social networks. As these apps get more sophisticated, you'll even be able to count calories by scanning a bar code, play "name that tune" by recording a song on your mobile device, and check to see if your flight's on time.
Developer Little iApps has even blessed consumers with an offering called Confession, which walks Catholics through the sacrament, offering what the company calls "a personalized examination of conscience for each user."
But the mobile computing world, where endless information lies at one's fingertips, hasn't charmed basic cell phones out of everyone's hands.
In addition to the hefty sticker prices that many devices carry, the skyrocketing network use has forced telecom carriers to seek ways to finance the scorching increases they face in network-maintenance costs.
Gone are the days of unlimited usage fees as carriers look to offset rising costs by restructuring pricing and slowing download speeds.
There's also the consumers who simply aren't interested in mobile-computing via cell phones.
This brings us to next week's Money Morning "Question of the Week:" Have you gone mobile? If so, how far? Do you have a smartphone and tablet? Do you find yourself using mobile computing more than your PC? Do you regularly use apps? If you aren't immersed in mobile computing, why not?
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you!
We reserve the right to edit responses for length, grammar and clarity.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate - via e-mail or by posting their comments directly on the Money Morning Web site.]
News and Related Story Links:
- Money Morning:
How to Profit from the Verizon iPhone
- Money Morning:
Tech Stocks Set To Soar in 2011 as a New Era of Personal Computing Dawns
You're using more smartphone data than you think
- San Francisco Chronicle:
Verizon iPhone Preorder Sales Estimate: 500,000 iPhones
- Money Morning News Archive:
Question of the Week Feature