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Factors Affecting Demand for Smartphones and Tablets

What Factors are Driving the Demand for Smartphones and Tablets in the Global Market

Demand for smartphones

Technological trends in the 21st century have brought major changes to people’s lifestyles. Technology is everywhere in your life from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep and the time in between. People are using it to connect with others, to buy and sell and even to monitor their personal health and well being. Technological innovation brought several marvels including internet, social media and smart portable gadgets. While portability and convenience became important issues influencing people’s choices of the kind of products and technology they choose to use, smart-phones grew in demand because of the large range of applications (apps) they offered.  People are now accessing the internet and using it for longer in their day to day lives. Social media has also altered the way we connect with people and given rise to a new need to stay connected on the go. People like to remain online around the clock even when they are asleep and have all the information they need on their fingertips. Nothing serves this purpose better than a smart-phone or a tablet and this is the main reason behind the popularity of these smarter gadgets which despite being smaller than laptops can serve several uses for which a person would earlier need a computer or a laptop. These smart-phones come loaded with so many functions and cater to our several needs. In this article, we will discuss what factors can influence their demand and how their popularity is affected by ongoing technological changes.

Technological Trends and Need for Higher Portability

Portable technology is there everywhere in our lives from smaller laptops to large screen smart-phones, tablets and wearable technology. One main reason that has led to the growth in demand and use of portable technology is the changing lifestyle of people in the 21st century. The modern world is complex where each second matters and people want to remain active and productive at their best. Smart-phones and laptops do not just help you stay connected but also come loaded with productivity tools. A basic email and social media are compulsory functions that every smartphone has. However, there are other apps and tools too that have made it simpler for people to stay active via the internet even when commuting. The most basic purpose that a smartphone serves is to keep you connected with your near and dear ones. However, there is much more.

People also need their daily dose of entertainment whenever they need it during the day. These smartphones can provide you access to streaming videos, music, and create your own videos and shoot images. It caters to people’s productivity as well as leisure needs. If you have a smart-phone with you, you do not have a chance to grow bored because you have just so many options from watching videos to video calling your friends and playing video games. So, the utility and convenience offered by the smart-phones and tablets is the reason that their demand has grown.  Smart-phones are smaller in size than tablets but several of them come with large screen sizes of 6 inches or more which is sufficient to play videos without needing more quality and clarity. However, a large number of users like to use tablets for reading e-books and for playing streaming videos. Amazon’s kindle offers thousands of e-books that can be accessed through a single account.  

You cannot have the same convenience when you use a laptop because you cannot carry it around with as much ease as a smart-phone or laptop which you can carry in a small bag or even your pocket. Amid their changing lifestyles, people demand extra convenience and utility because they are now more busy and productive than ever. A very large and growing crowd of professionals cannot do without a smart-phone or a tablet because it has to send and receive emails or even other files and it can be the situation of an emergency any time anywhere.  The need for higher productivity has given rise to new needs that can be catered to through smarter gadgets that are easier to carry around and use. Most young people have the Amazon app on their phones and like to shop at a tap for their small and big needs.

Demographic Changes Globally

Changing demographics of the global population have also affected the demand for smart-phones and tablets. During the recent decade, the demographic composition of the global population has changed a lot. Baby boomers have moved out of the global workforce in large numbers and millennials joined it. The millennials were born with technology. They are more tech-savvy than the previous generation and spend more time using technology and the internet. The millennials including teenagers use more technological devices and the internet is an essential part of their lives. They were born in the era of email and constitute the largest population on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are their favorite social media stops and they cannot do without spending some time on each of them daily.  Their needs are different from the previous generations and not just social media and social connection, they do much more online and using smart-phones and tablets. The millennials or the youth constitute the largest segment of smart-phone and tablet consumers and several of the own more than one. These people spend their leisure time differently than the baby boomers and are more likely to shop online. These millennials use their smart-phones for so many purposes including email, surfing the web, for entertainment, shopping and several other odd jobs including professional uses. They also like reading e-books and blogs on their tablets. In this way, the changing demographics of the world population and the increased use of internet technology have added to the demand for smart-phones and tablets. Another important reason that the use of smart-phones among youth has kept growing is that they use it for taking selfies and keep posting them on Facebook and other social media channels. Sometimes the love for smart-phones also takes the form of addiction. Some years ago texting had become a bane for parents because their kids remained busy texting their friends on their phones. It had taken the form of addiction. With the arrival of the smartphone, new channels of communication like WhatsApp and video calls are available which still keep the young people and teenagers engaged on their smart-phone screen. In a youth’s life, a smart-phone plays several roles helping him save important files, pictures and staying connected with his dear friends as well as passing time when he is alone. In the US, the number of smart-phone users is highest in the 18- 49 age group. (Source: Statista)

Growth in Economic Activity and Opportunities

Apart from technological and demographic factors, there are some more that have led to the growing demand for smart-phones and tablets. Economic factors have also aided the growth and proliferation of smart-phone technology.  The world economy is back on track since after the recession and globally the level of employment has also risen. With returning economic activity, people have more disposable income to spend on technology and lifestyle products. Smart-Phones and tablets are not just technological gadgets but an inseparable part of a modern and fast-moving lifestyle. In this decade the middle-class population around the globe has seen a major rise in its income level. People have more extra income to spend on technological products and online shopping. There are several brands in the market that cater to a large group of consumers from the low end to the high-end segment. High-end smart-phones made by Apple or Samsung have increased in demand because of their excellent quality and functions. Moreover, people are now having better and easier access to finance for their purchases. Credit cards and easy EMIs have also somewhere helped churn demand for lifestyle and technology products. More people are buying smart-phones and tablets using their credit cards and on EMIs. So, the role of economic factors is important with regards to the demand for smart gadgets like smart-phones and tablets. The sales of these products are particularly high in the developed and developing economies and which again proves the importance of economic factors. In nations where people’s purchasing power is higher, the sales of these gadgets are also high. As per a Statista report, the number of smart-phone users is highest in three countries including India, China, and the US followed by Brazil, Russia, Japan, and Germany.

China: 717 million (approximate)

India: 300 million (approximate)

United States: 226 million (approximate)

Social factors

Apart from all these factors there are social factors that also influence the demand for smart-phones. Social influences also play an important role in churning demand for these products. For a very large number of smart-phone owners, it is not just a cool gadget but a lifestyle and status symbol. Several of them purchase these products after seeing a close friend or dear one using it. Many own them just because they want to stay connected with their friends or because their friend bought a new one. The degree of exposure to technology in a society or culture also affects the demand for smart-phones and tablets there. In the western nations and the developed and fast-developing nations of Asia, the demand for smart-phones is higher because kids are exposed to technology at an early age there. In the nations where the level of technological growth is higher, the demand for smart-phones is correspondingly higher. Globalization brought several changes that made people adopt modern lifestyles. As their lifestyles grew more modern, these gadgets became an intrinsic part of their lifestyles. Some more factors that can also lead to higher demand are the brand name, brand equity, level of investment in marketing and overall popularity. The popularity of Apple products in the high-end market is higher because of its quality and extraordinary technology.  Samsung and other brands invest heavily in the marketing of their smartphones. Google is promoting its Pixel 2 heavily and has made a large investment in marketing of its smartphone. How a brand or product is marketed plays an important role in the demand and sales of the product. Its pricing strategy also affects demand. A competitive pricing strategy helps create extra demand for a product. In this way, you can see there are several factors that affect the demand for smart-phones and tablets in the global market. Technological, economic and lifestyle factors are of special importance with regards to understanding why people buy and use smart-phones. As per reports, the use of these smart gadgets will continue to grow in the coming years.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/489255/percentage-of-us-smartphone-owners-by-age-group/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/748053/worldwide-top-countries-smartphone-users/

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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