What’s Your Smartphone I.Q.?

What’s Your Smartphone I.Q.?

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Why is it that in these economically difficult times, where most consumers are watching every nickel, they are still opening their wallets to purchase smartphones?

It’s a question worth pondering for all retailers as the answer may reveal an interesting social phenomenon attached to much of today’s technology. When a category can claim 25-percent growth in 2009, as Gartner has predicted for the smartphone market this year, the reasons for that growth are surely worth dissecting.

It is no longer about feeling the need to stay connected, it is now about the desire to stay connected. It’s almost socially unacceptable not to be reachable at all times, instantly via e-mail or text message.

It’s also partially about productivity, and gadgets like smartphones have become an essential part of remaining productive in what has become a truly mobile society.

"The social norm today is that you should respond within a few minutes if someone has reached out to you," began Laura Frankie, a working mother of three from New York. "It’s really also true with images. If you’re away on vacation, it’s becoming the norm to show family and friends the pics while you’re still on the vacation, not when you get back. It’s old news by then."

One consumer we chatted with recently referred to his iPhone "as an appendage," adding, "I was never really a gadget guy but I feel much more on top of my life since I bought it, and I’m sharing more of my life since I got it as well. I’m expressing myself more."

That may be the most important part of this equation for retailers, particularly those that deal with memories for a living. Self-expression is a big part of the mobile world today and, when you think about it, it has always been a big part of the imaging world. People take pictures to express themselves. Whether it’s to show off their beautiful kids, a recent vacation or a night out. With today’s mobile technology, they are simply able to do it more frequently, more easily and share it more instantly.

That’s a nice recipe for continued success, and I’m not just talking about the smartphone market.

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