According to the Pew Research Center, as of January 2014, 90% of American adults own a cellphone. It feels as though cellphones are everywhere and have become an integral part of daily life around the globe. Since this trend is highly unlikely to change any time soon, it is interesting to know where the wireless industry is headed. The following are some of the trends that are being seen in the industry today and what can be expected in the future.
One of the most prevalent current trends, as the wireless industry grows, is that the use of landlines is quickly ending. One report concludes that only about half of the households in the U.S. have a landline. When we compare to ten years ago, when nine in every ten homes had a landline, it is easy to see the dramatic shift in consumer preferences.
However, consumers are not ditching their landlines for just any old cellphone. The Pew Research Center reported in October 2014 that 64% of American adults owned a smartphone. That number continues to grow as more and more smartphone options are popping up on the market. As for what type of smartphone people are buying, it looks like Apple surpassed the sale of Android devices for the first time since 2012 with its newest iPhone 6 model. But, with technology quickly shifting and advancing, the “top dog” position is always up for grabs.
A wireless trend that is important to consumers is the shift toward pay-as-you-go phone plans. Cellphone plans have traditionally involved lengthy contracts—typically two years in the U.S.—that come bundled with a variety of services and hefty fees. Increasingly, the market is seeing growth in prepaid. Pay-as-you-go plans are available through all four of the major U.S. mobile phone provides, as well as through Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) providers like magicJack.
A compelling reason behind the switch to prepaid plans is the increase in the amount of data users are consuming. The Cisco Visual Network Index estimates that mobile data traffic increased by 69% across the globe in 2014. As individuals consume more data, they are shying away from the contract plans, which rarely offer unlimited data and charge heavy overage fees.
Of course, not all mobile Internet access is going through cellular data. The world relies heavily on Wi-Fi to supplement data needs. As more and more Wi-Fi hotspots are made available to the public, this trend is only likely to increase. It has been predicted that by 2018, more than 85% of mobile data traffic will go through Wi-Fi rather than cellular data. Since Wi-Fi tends to be much less expensive for consumers than data packages through mobile carriers, it will be easier than ever for users to take advantage of the mobile app available with the magicJack VoIP service. This free app allows you to place and receive calls over your phone’s 4G or Wi-Fi connection without eating up your plan minutes.
Another recent trend is that users are switching carriers, as they look around for a better deal. This too is likely aided by the greater availability of prepaid plans. As cellphone users continue to depend on mobile devices to stay connected, they are searching for creative avenues to get the newest phones, the largest data plans, and the least expensive prices. It looks like service providers may find themselves needing to fight a little harder to persuade customers to stay loyal in the face of increasing competition.
All of these trends add up to a society that is ever more dependent on wireless technology and constantly on the lookout for a more cost effective way to get it. It is highly likely that these trends will continue as we move into a future of increased mobile communication.