I still remember a time when most people needed before stepping out of their homes were their keys and their wallets. Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who leaves home without their smartphone. And to think this device has only been in the mainstream for about a half-dozen years.
According to Deloitte’s 2019 global mobile consumer survey, about 1.4 billion smartphones will be shipped far more than any other device. And although adoption levels are nearing their plateau (who doesn’t own at least one smartphone?), sales of smartphones, along with apps and accessories, are expected to total nearly US$1 trillion in 2020.
Here are other smartphone trends you can expect to unfold in the coming months based on our survey.
The smartphone has become integral to many people’s lives. It’s not just an accessory, but a device that is embedded into many people’s daily routines. Besides the wealth of helpful applications, there are also a growing array of devices that smartphones enable: smartphones are used to configure smart speakers, display data from fitness trackers, and relay images from security cameras. The more consumers purchase such ancillary devices, the more useful a smartphone becomes.
This is why Deloitte expects smartphones to remain the focus of investment budgets for many years to come. Investments in new processors, machine learning capabilities, computational photography, display technology, and connectivity will likely focus more on smartphones than any other type of device, such as tablets.
The market for smartphone apps and accessories is gigantic and growing fast. Even if the smartphone market has reached maturity, sales of hardware, content, and services for this device are booming. Deloitte expects this broader smartphone economy to drive $459 billion in revenue in 2020 alone, 15 percent higher than the previous year. In particular, watch out for these two major product categories: wireless headphones and wireless charging. Only a small number of smartphone owners have acquired these products so far, so there is much room for growth.
Users don’t seem worried about controlling their smartphone use. Despite the efforts of our own smartphones to help us regulate our use of these devices, it seems very few are heeding the warning. Results of our past surveys have shown that most consumers reach for their phones within half an hour of waking. Younger folks admit to overusing their phones at night, after lights out. And while 48 percent of respondents self-report as overusers, only 6 percent use screen time trackers to curb this behavior.
Smartphones are great for playing games. Even when people were still using GSM phones with monochrome screens and numeric keypads, games were already a diffrentiator. This welcome distraction matters even more now. When asked what they regularly use their phones for, 61 percent of respondents in the Philippines said they play games, compared to 37 percent who regularly use it for maps and navigation. Globally, smartphone owners said they play mobile games at all the time in the day, with 15 percent admitting that they play as soon as they wake up.
Consumers are sharing a lot of data, sometimes without being aware of the terms and conditions. It won’t surprise you to know that about 80 percent of adults rarely, if ever, read the terms and conditions associated with apps or devices. And despite the increase in the number and gravity of negative stories regarding data privacy, the volume and range of data that consumers share has grown in most countries. This is likely a function of the growing number of connected devices people own.
Social network usage has also held steady or gone up marginally.
In the Philippines, for example, 38 percent of respondents think they already share their pictures with online companies, while 37 percent think they’ve shared their email addresses. This despite the fact that 74 percent of Filipinos are either very or fairly concerned with how the companies they interact with online use their personal data.
This rise in data-sharing may be alarming for some, but there is an upside to this trend as well. There is growing anecdotal evidence, for example, of smartphones saving people’s lives precisely because these users shared personal information such as their location or medical conditions.
With the signs pointing to people’s increased dependence on their smartphones, it may be a losing battle to expect users to cut back on what they share or on their screen time. Perhaps a more realistic exercise is to encourage people to be more mindful of what they share and how companies use this data for a myriad of purposes, especially the unsavory ones. But if you’re one of those rare breeds who has “cut back on screen time” on your list of New Year’s resolutions, I wish you all the best. May you find the balance so many of us are seeking.
The author is an audit and assurance partner at Navarro Amper & Co., a member of the Deloitte Asia Pacific Network.Deloitte Asia Pacific Limited is a company limited by guarantee and a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Members of Deloitte Asia Pacific Limited and their related entities, each of which are separate and independent legal entities, provide services from more than 100 cities across the region, including Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Melbourne, Osaka, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo and Yangon.