Media and Technology
Professor Jane Pirone
Final Research Project
The Smartphone’s Innovation in Media Technology
The cell phone was an extraordinary technological accomplishment of the twentieth century. It forever changed the way people would communicate with one another. It would allow people the ability to get and stay connected with others at any time no matter where they were. While this concept was once foreign and only purchased by those elite people who had access to the best technology. The smartphone has now become a household must have. Not only that, it has turned from a want to a need. If there has been an invention more significant then the cellphone it has to be the smartphone.
The smartphone is a cellphone at it’s core, but it is so much more then that. It is basically a computer in your pocket. A concept thought implausible even a twenty years ago. Allowing its users to have access to a computer like device at anytime, anywhere, on their wireless connection. This again has forever changed the way people communicate, it has also changed the way we use media and communicate with media.
The smartphone has molded the way present day media is communicated. The media today is not the same as it was before the smartphone. Today, the smartphone and other technologies like it, dictate the way media is distributed across the world. The present day smartphone looks quite different then the very first ones made. The evolution of the smartphone has been tremendous, and today the possibilities of what the smartphone can do are endless.
An easy way to begin to understand the smartphone is to compare it to its predecessor, the PDA. The PDA short for Personal Digital Assistant, born in the late 1980’s, was a handheld electronic day planner, calendar, to-do list, and could be easily connected to your home or office computer. (Freudenrich & Carmack, 2012) As the years progressed and the Internet became more widely popular some of these PDAs would begin connecting to the Internet. It was realized that these devices could be capable of connecting to the Internet anywhere if they could use a cellular connection. Therefore the idea of the first smartphone was born. Connect the PDA with a cellular connection in order to connect to the Internet.
The technology and capabilities of the smartphone are constantly evolving and changing, with each year comes a new idea or technology that will evolve the smartphone. Therefore affecting the way the smartphone is built. To better understand how the smartphone works we need to know how this technology works. It starts with the hardware. Just like a desk top or laptop computer the smartphone has a processor, usually ranging from 100 to 624 MHz. Built in memory is also extremely important in today’s smartphone as the user wants and needs to store data on the phone itself. Many of these phones have more then enough data/memory storage, however, external compatible storage can be used if necessary. (Coustan & Strickland, 2011)
More importantly the smartphone has built in computer chips to aid in the functionality of the phone itself. While the data processing part is important, the functionality is what makes a “smartphone” a “smart” phone. These chips functions include web browsing, camera, and other multimedia functions such a video, and music playing. This technology has seen a convergence in their computer chips, as many of these chips will now serve multiple functions, allowing for less space to be taken up. This will allow a smaller phone, and will drain less battery. Battery life is often a main concern when building the hardware of a smartphone. The phone could be phenomenal, but if it the battery is depleted too quickly, it would defeat the purpose (Yoffie, 1997)
The software and operating systems of these smartphones are typically what the general public will recognize when using smartphones. These two aspects are usually the main concern when someone is choosing a smartphone they would like to purchase. The main characteristic of the software is the API otherwise known as Application Programming Interface. This is a tool used to share content and data between software applications (Clemente) For smartphones this allows programmers to develop applications for the phone. The number of applications is endless, and is usually filtered through each phones operating system.
The operating system manages the hardware and dictates how the owner of the phone is able to use the device, including it’s software, native and third-party applications (created by APIs) Some different operating systems include: iOS (a branch of Mac computers MAC OS) Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian, Java, and Garnet OS. These software operating systems are what allow the user to perform tasks on the phone with an ease of use. It is similar to operating systems on a regular computer, allowing the user the ability to not have to understand computer code to work their device.
Finally, what makes the smartphone; a “smart” cellphone is that is runs off of a cellular network. When using any type of web-browsing application, sending emails, or using API’s that require data from the Internet, this data must be sent and received over a network protocol. Network protocols will transmit this data at a variety of different speeds that will ultimately determine the market desire for this phone, and create a competitive market for that phone. The protocols are constantly being updated, and are typically different which each mobile carrier.
The main cell phone networks are CDMA used by Verizon and Sprint. CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access and are dual band networks that will operate on the 800/850 MHz band, and the 1900 MHz band in the USA, and will not work in other countries. The other main cellphone network is GSM, which stands for Global System for Mobile Communication, which works on three to four bands. The reason this has more MHz bands to access is that it can access cellular networks abroad. These phones can access multiple MHz bands to maximize mobile coverage. (ConsumerReports, 2009)The importance of the cellular network comes from the fact that all of the mobile phone technology would be useless if data could not be transmitted. If the data could not be sent and received it would render the smartphone useless, as it would turn into a regular cellphone.
While new technology is invented for the smartphone each and every day. Most of the technology is either borrowed or modified from previous computer technologies. The smartphone is built upon technology that was already there, it took all of the desktop and laptop computer technology and modified it to fit in a mobile phone. Without the computer chip, these phones would not be able to perform even the simplest tasks such as taking a picture, or sending an email. The phone would not be able to browse the Internet, or transmit data. All of this technology was already invented, but it needed to be modified to fit into a handheld device, and work off of a cellular network protocol.
There is really not much a cellphone cannot due, but the limitations come from the memory storage and data processing. (Tibken, 2012) As previously stated, the smartphone works on a data processing speed of 100-624 MHz. In most circumstances, the data processing needed on a hand held phone, this speed would be fine. However, for a desktop computer this speed would be painfully slow. The reason being desktop computers need the capability to process more heavy-duty programs. The typical cellphone user does not need to do this.
A smartphone would not be able to handle the processing heavy computer programs that may be needed in some work places. Even if an API would be able to recreate this program for a mobile device the data processing in the phone could not possibly process the program. To fix this, the phone would need a higher MHz and a more heavy duty processing system, however, this would cause the phone to need restructuring, making for a much larger device, that may no longer be handheld, thus defeating the purpose of a mobile device in the first place.
The smartphone is a prime candidate when discussing the theory of convergence. This theory states that technologies are being combined, with one technology performing multiple tasks and purposes. The smartphone has combined many aspects of a desktop and laptop computer, into a cellphone and camera and what used to be known as a PDA. All of the functions that used to be performed on three to four to five different devices can now be done with one small device. (Livingston, 2004)
One of the few tradeoffs of the smartphone is that if one of these complex technologies breaks, or has an issue, all of the other technologies would be rendered useless for that time frame. The other major concern when it comes to smartphones, but really cellphones in general, is the radiation they give off. There are people out there who feel it is a risk to carry a smartphone, and that it could potentially cause cancer in the future. (Cancer.gov) The interesting thing about this is, most objects if deemed to cause harmful side effects, would see a dramatic decrease in use and sales, however, the cellphone market has seen the opposite, with sales at it’s highest ever.
The only real competition the smartphone has in the technology market, is with itself. The smartphone has seen many different creators, including but not limited to Apple, Android, Google, Microsoft, PALM, and RIM (Blackberry). Each of these companies competes to have the best, most efficient, fastest, and user-friendly smartphone on the market. The trend in smartphone sizes tends to vary with each year. Some people wanting the smallest phone, and some wanting a large screen, with a slim phone. This competition drives the market to find the newest technology to add to the smartphone, each company tries to do this before the other.
While the third party applications have video games, there is really no direct competition with any video game companies. The only other real competition comes from all the convergent tasks the smartphone can do. Some of these include, performing calculator functions, act as a calendar, a to-do list, a reminder, a timer, a watch, the list goes on an on. The more people who eventually have a smartphone, the less business companies who make traditional technologies, such as calendars, watches, etc. will have. The thought of someone not needing a watch or a calendar may seem absurd at first, and by no means do I think it would completely become extinct, but I think younger generations are going to depend less, and less upon these more traditional technologies, eventually lessening their presence in the market.
As previously discussed the smartphone evolved from the original cellphone, and draws close ties to the PDA, but why did this world changing technology come about? First the history of the telephone has to be analyzed. The telephone, which naturally predates the cellular phone, was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell. The popularity of the telephone and its ability to rapidly increase communication across a plethora of different platforms, allowing the rapid movement of information was a huge invention. The power of this technology was quickly realized, and work to continually improve and advance the telephone has not stopped since that time. (Siegfried D, 2010)
In 1900, a man named Reginald Fessenden was the first person to make a wireless telephone call; he was able to transmit his voice over radio waves. Due to Fessenden’s discoveries, he paved the way for broadcast radio, and broadcast communication. In 1947 William Rae Young would propose the use of radio towers in a hexagonal pattern to produce wireless telephone connections. This time frame was fitting as World War II had ended two years prior, and new technologies were in full swing. The Second World War had seen advancements in the use of radio communication. The years following would see many advancements in the in the race for readily available wireless cellular phones. (fas.org)
Actual cellphones while still rare was sparsely start popping up from place to place, very different from present day cellphones. Some of these prototype devices being too large, and too heavy to carry around, thus partially defeating the purpose of having a cellphone. In 1973 the company Motorola produced what is now that of as the very first cellphone. It weighed 2.5 pounds and measured 9 inches long, which could not possibly fit in one’s pocket, however, still small enough to be portable. Later that decade the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) was introduced as an analog network. (Princeton.edu)
Over the next few decades the cellphone continually evolved, eventually becoming much smaller, the car phone becoming very popular in the early 1990’s as it did not have the need to be small enough to fit in a pocket. While the technology of the actual cellphone had been around for a couple decades, the technology for a wide-ranging cellular network was still not there. The late 1980’s, early 1990’s would begin introducing digital cellular networks such as GSM and CDMA, which are still used in present day.
The 1990’s brought about an evolution of the cellphone. Now that wide-range cellular telephone networks were readily available advancement of the actual cellular phone body/frame and hardware could be fine tuned and worked on. The cell phone would begin getting smaller, being able to fit in your pocket. The trend was smaller and thinner, small tasks would begin bring implemented in the phone, such as a calculator, calendar, and even a low quality camera.
The desire for the phone to do more then place calls at anytime anywhere would begin to develop. As personal desktop and laptop computers became more available, and the general public would have more experience with the computer, the demand to for the cellphone to do more would become greater. As previously mentioned the PDA was formed, and the market desire for a cellphone that could act as a PDA was born.
Many companies played a key role creating and revolutionizing the smartphones. Each of these companies made great strides, typically at a different time then the other. Palm actually manufactured the very first smartphone available to the public in 2001. Though Blackberry (RIM) manufactured the first push-button email enabled phone in 1999. In 2002 Symbian manufactured the first cell phone with a camera and in 2004 HP manufactured their first PDA, cellphone combination. All of these early variations of the smartphone paved way for companies such as Apple who really revolutionized the smartphone industry with their iPhone.
The iPhone first introduced to the world in 2007 revitalized the concept of the smartphone with a touch screen cell phone that could not only send emails, and browse the web, but also utilize APIs to use third-party applications on the phone. In 2008 Android and Google came out with their version of the smartphone. All of these later devices converging previous cellphone and smartphone concepts into each other in a competitive manner to be the best smartphone in nearly saturated market.
The smartphone has several different economic and business factors associated with it. First there is the cellphone manufacturer. This can be a company such as Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Nokia, Google these companies create the concept of the phone, they build the phone, and ultimately sell the phone. These companies will have to decide where they would like to manufacture their product, usually China. They will then select all the computer hardware for their phone.
This includes the computer chips, the battery, the battery, the processing system, and even the camera. All of these are purchased from different manufactures in their respective fields. The cellphone manufacturer then has to decide what cellular network company they would like for their phone to be compatible with. Many times the phone is built to be compatible with multiple cellular networks. However, some companies such as Apple wish to have more control over their product.
The cellphone manufacturer typically has to decide it’s cellular compatibility before it is built, as the cellular network antenna or SIM card needs to be built in to the phone. Once all of this is decided, the retailers that will also be allowed to sell the phone are put in place, and an abundance of accessories are also built to add-on to the product. A smartphone from conception to the sales floor has gone through a plethora of different businesses to produce the final product.
The ways in which the Smartphone business has become profitable has grown immensely over the last decade. For one, the purchase of the actual phone costs the consumer a decent amount of money. With the average smartphone price surpassing $135, just for the phone itself (Tofel, 2011) Next, with the sale of most smartphones, the consumer typically has to sign a two-year contract with a mobile carrier. These contracts will consist of a higher-price for a plat that includes transmission of Data, which all smartphones utilize. On top of all of this the smartphone accessories such as cases, screen protectors, extra memory, extra chargers, adaptors, car-chargers all are extra ways for these companies to make more money.
A new way to generate revenue was truly introduced by Apple, and followed up by Google Android in using the smartphone as a music player, as well as a way to use third party applications, which are made through APIs. Each of these newer devices especially on Apple, and Google will have certain native applications. These applications are on all of their phones and cannot be deleted. These include the music store, and application store (app store) where the user can purchase music, and purchase these third-party applications. Not only is revenue made by the nearly 1 million third party applications, but also now ads are attached to those apps, which create even more revenue. (Graham, 2013)
The smartphone industry is project to be worth $150.3 Billion by 2014. (Sunita, 2013) This industry has been continually growing since it’s conception with new technology and new and unique ways to draw in new revenue with each passing day. Consumers are able to rent and buy textbooks, books, and movies on their phone. For an added price to their phone bill each month a consumer can “tether” their smartphone, which allows other devices to latch on to the cellular connection of their phone. This can be another phone, and iPod, or even a computer. (Glenn, 2008)
One of the most significant ways in which the smartphone industry has changed the world is the way in which it has affected media, and media distribution across the globe. It is known how much the smartphone has increased the efficiency, and increased the way in which the world communicates. However, the way that the smartphone is able to utilize media, especially social media has been tremendous.
While social media predates the smartphone, it is the smartphone that has allowed social media to rise to the level it has. Social media can include a plethora of different platforms that allow the user to take a larger role in being an active audience. (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden, 2011) This includes but is not limited to sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, MySpace, Tumblr, WordPress, Vine, Pintrest, and many more. All of these social media sites allow the user to not only take part in the media, but also become content creators, and co-creators of the applications themselves. It allows a more interconnected world, allowing the users to make profiles and connect with anyone with Internet access across the globe no matter where they are. (Quadir, 2013)
The ability for people to communicate from around the world is a remarkable feat, that allows for a greater understanding of other people and cultures. This also effects the way information and news is sent and received. Information has become instant, and the way news is distributed has become instantaneous, allowing first hand accounts to be told in real time. A recent example is the twitter user who live-tweeted the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. This has also allowed for a newer generation of more educated consumers on current event, news and information since it is so readily available, and presented to the consumer every time they go on one of these sites.
The reason why the smartphone has effected and changed these social media platforms is the user no longer has to be at their home, office, or school computer to update and check their social media site. They can now do this right from their smartphone, anywhere, at anytime. Again, allowing for updates in real time, this permits a greater access of these sites, as well as a greater desire to do so. Every business, company, entertainer, etc. needs a social networking site to stay current and stay connect. The connectivity of these sites and users is what create such an impact on the world.
These social media sites are now molded by the smartphone, and vice versa. These two platforms now go hand in hand when building the device, what will allow the device maximum usability of the social media sites, and how can these social media sites, and their applications be created in a way that maximizes their use on the smartphone.
With the evolution of social media sites and the positive accomplishments from them, their will always be someone who uses the platforms in harmful ways. This includes people posting malicious speech (Cyber Bullying) at an individual or group. Public figures inappropriately posting speech or pictures on these sites, which could be harmful to their career. The sites create a much greater accessibility to people including celebrities and public figures, however, it can also carry at risk if these people are not careful.
With all of the great strides of social media and the smartphone come new laws and regulations often dictated by the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has the ability to monitor and regulate all smartphones, and cellphones in general. They have to stand up to stringent regulations especially in regards to radiation emission. The FCC has a strong impact on copyright, patents, privacy, piracy, and licensing.
Typically the largest impact of the FCC in regards to software and hardware patents among Smartphone manufactures but an even larger impact comes from protecting the consumer and their privacy and security. The FCC even has a branch of their site dedicated to helping the consumer secure their smartphone- http://www.fcc.gov/smartphone-security
As the smartphone has become one of the biggest examples of convergence in current day technology. More and more consumer information is able to be stored and access on these devices. Leaving the consumer more vulnerable to malicious attempts to illegally access this data. Many of these new devices and technologies are so new that laws often need to catch up with them. Therefore, they are not in place when initial attempts are made to access personal data, or technology crimes. These cannot be processed at first because they are technically not illegal until new laws are put into place. (Murdoch, 2013)
In conclusion Smartphones will continue to be the way of the future, they will continue to develop convergent technology and with each passing day be able to do more and more for it’s users. Soon these smartphones will be able to act as a digital wallet, as they are already making strides to do so, in allowing it’s users to store gift cards and tickets on them. Next, credit card information will be able to be stored so the user simply has to flash their phone of the credit card reader. (HowToGeek)
This technology utilizes NFC (Near Field Communication Technology) to transmit credit card data over radio waves and use as a form of payment at accepting stores and retailers. This makes for great convenience, however, as previously discussed the security technology will also have to be in place before a technology such as the digital wallet is available to the mass market. As many smartphone manufactures such as Apple are gaining rights to the patents of NFC use in their smartphones, this technology is thought to make its debut in the near future. (Swider, 2012)
The other capabilities are endless as computer chips, processors and batteries become more advanced, what the smartphone can do follows suit. The smartphone can be synced with common household items such as TVs and even appliances. The more connected the smartphone can become with other objects and devices the more it will be able to achieve in the future. While no one can completely predict the future of any technology, the future for smartphones is sure to be an exciting and bright path to even greater success and innovation.
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