This day was always going to come, it was just a matter of when. Research firm IDC has revealed that smartphones outsold feature phones in Western Europe in the second quarter of 2011, with the latter down by 29 per cent on the same period last year.
Feature phones accounted for 20.4 million sales, while smartphones were up to 21.8 million, a 49 per cent rise. So why has it finally happened? Here’s our five key reasons that 2011 has proved the tipping point for smartphones.
1 Cheaper handsets
The availability of good quality, low cost smartphones has been ramping up for some time. But this year has seen some truly excellent examples, coinciding with top-quality builds of Google Android, ensuring the feature phone’s demise.
The HTC Wildfire S is perhaps the best example, although the brilliant Samsung Galaxy Ace is also a great budget blower. ZTE’s arrival in Europe has also made a difference. With SIM-free prices under £200 and contracts at £15, no wonder users are opting for these handsets over less functional, old school devices.
2 Slimmer design
The times of only the very best smartphones getting the best designs have long gone. The fact that top quality components are now smaller and more affordable helps, meaning that you can have a do-it-all smartphone that won’t bulge in your pocket or take up stacks of space in a bag.
Chunky handsets just aren’t in evidence any more, all the more reason to choose a smartie rather than a feature phone.
3 Better data packages
Data has been coming down in price for years, but offers such as T-Mobile’s unlimited package and 3’s All-You-Can-Eat deal mean that you aren’t likely to get stung when taking your phone on lengthy web and Facebook sessions.
This was a huge barrier to growth (and may still present issues for networks in the future as data demand soars) that has now been removed. Data no longer costs much, therefore it’s become a mobile must-have.
4 Huge choice
The array of smartphones available, using great software with access to hundreds of thousands of apps, has never been better. This has become much more evident in 2011, and not just in the aforementioned lower end of the market.
Top notch iPhone alternatives, from the HTC Sensation to the BlackBerry Bold and Samsung Galaxy SII, have got better and more prevalent. It’s no longer about one or two devices dominating, it’s about a huge swathe of devices offering excellent choice.
5 The all-round factor
The fact you can do everything on a smartphone that a feature phone can do, and more, is an obvious, but important factor. Until recently, using the web, email, social networks and HD video recording was the preserve of mobile fanatics.
That these things are now more culturally important throughout society should not be underestimated. As more people move their lives online, the move towards more powerful phones is inevitable.