Above: Apple WWDC 2014
Above: Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015
Two decades ago, in many countries, owning a mobile phone was considered a privilege. Nowadays, it is considered a necessity by many, and so it will be rare to find a person without one; and so as more people own one, the larger the mobile phone market grows. This creates fierce competition between companies, most notably between Apple and Samsung, or Apple and Google. This puts a lot of anticipation on the new phones these companies have to offer, as they try to respond to their rival’s best efforts, resulting in extravagant events when they are announced attended by thousands and watched by millions online.
About a decade ago, not many companies would hold an event just to announce a new mobile phone. This largely changed when Apple held an event to announce the iPhone in 2007. Apple did this, as they would usually hold an event to announce a new product, since Steve Jobs took over as CEO. Their event to announce the iPhone was seen as a huge success as it introduced the world to a revolutionary mobile phone at the time. This caused other companies to react, and soon every company released their own ‘smartphone’ and also began to hold their own events to do so. This has resulted in more people attending and watching these events in anticipation to see what innovative features a company could offer in order to compete in the market. This is shown in the images above when thousands of people went to watch an announcement of only an update to Apple’s mobile operating system, and when Samsung announced the Galaxy S6.
The amount of attention to the mobile phone market can be seen to extend much more beyond the extravagant events held by companies, and onto the sales. This can be seen most clearly on the first day a new iPhone is on sale. The image above shows the queue for the iPhone 6 in 2014 at the Apple store in Covent Garden, London on the first day of sale. There were similar sights across the world at almost every Apple store, as people camp overnight to be first in the queue. Other phones have still not seen this type of hype, possibly as they do not have as large a fan-base as Apple.
This is partially what I mean by ‘the mobile domination’: that mobile phones have become such a personal object in people’s lives that they develop a sort of relationship with the brand. This creates fierce fans who say that they can never be persuaded to own a phone from a rival company, and also those who camp overnight outside a shop to be among the first in the world to own the new model. The other way ‘the mobile domination’ is happening is by the advances in technology in mobile phones. They now dominate our lives, as they can perform many tasks that make our lives much easier, and so we use them more often. Therefore they have grown to dominate our lives emotionally and in terms of time we spend on them. This can be seen to be quite dangerous as companies that produce phones potentially have more control over many people, especially with the growing mobile payment market. Could this mean that soon mobile phone companies will have large amounts of power, such as oil companies have, or perhaps they already do and we don’t even know it.