many happy returns

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Happy birthday, dear smartphone, happy birthday to you. As it is with all things that become ubiquitous and part of society’s seamless fabric it’s hard to envisage life without them. And so it is with the smartphone: can anyone remember life without it? Consequently, it may come as a surprise that it’s only ten years old. Yep, the smartphone isn’t even yet a stroppy teenager as it’s only been a decade since Steve Jobs unveiled the communications game-changer to the delight of his adoring minions.

Apple’s launch of the iPhone sparked one of the largest technological booms, and social movements, the world has ever witnessed. Social networking, social media, entertainment & news consumption on the hoof, music streaming and interactive gaming are now the norm when once they were unheard off and had yet to be conceived. Multibillion-dollar companies to drive these advances, Uber, Airbnb and Instagram, have come from nowhere to dominate the commercial landscape, with Apple usurping ExxonMobil to assume the mantle of the world’s largest company. However, since this 2011 milestone, all has not been rosy in the mobile garden and each consecutive year has seen smartphone sales fall.

Fully appreciating that change is the new static, these nervous and insecure behemoths now seek to extend their tentacles into all things societal: The Internet of Things still has to make itself felt commercially; driverless cars, commercial drones and the promise of wearable tech have yet to deliver beyond the geek. In the most anticipated flotation of the year, mega-unicorn Snapchat are likely to IPO with an expected $25bn valuation. No, really, $25bn for what is, essentially, a photo app with a belief that we’ll wear the imminent Snapchat Spectacles which can automatically post your pics & vids to your social feeds. Yes, the App store is coming good for Apple and is now contributing 40% of its revenue but nothing appears as Tsunami-like as that birth just a few years ago. And with the increased threat of hacking and covert surveillance via our massive digital footprint maybe it’s time to reassess out relationship with mobile tech.