March 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

What Smartphone Rise Means for Gamers, Filmmakers, Music Producers

The clear and present shift from computers to phones-that-act-sort-of-like-computers passed a major milestone last quarter, according to a recent report. The electronics industry shipped more smartphones in the U.S. than they did personal computers for the first time says a prominent consultant, echoing an early IDC report posted by Forbes that said the same.

“For the first time in the US, the smartphones shipments exceeded the traditional computer segments (that consists of desktops, notebooks and netbooks),” notes Chetan Sharma (.pdf via ReadWriteWeb), who found that connected mobile devices that had been purchased with a service plan grew the fastest. “In 2011, the smartphone segment along with the connected devices (tablets and eReaders) will not only exceed the computer segment in unit shipment [as they did last quarter] but, more importantly, in the overall revenues as well,” added Sharma, whose client list includes Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Comcast, Microsoft, NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, and Samsung.

Wireless consultant Chetan Sharma, who tracks the mobile industry, found that smartphone shipments exceeded PC shipments in the U.S. for the first time last quarter.

One big side effect of this shift will be felt by gamers, video editors and audio recorders, who have, to date, relied on mainstream users to bring down the prices of powerful computing machines while increasing processor speeds.

When John Doe decides he needs a tablet and smartphone instead of a new desktop and laptop, people who really do need the processing power of a “real” computer will have to pay more for smaller advances in processing power.

However, on the plus side, as the mainstream increasingly purchases smartphones and tablets, the app market should develop even further, and the hardware on which mobile apps run will get faster as well. And that opportunity that hits geeks in two ways: as smartphone/tablet users and as app developers.

Another big winner: United States wireless networks and the United States itself, which after years of lagging behind the rest of the world in the mobile market, now appears to be at its forefront, as Sharma told Time Magazine (paywall link) last month.

U.S. wireless data networks — the ISPs of the mobile market for better or worse — increased revenue five percent from the third to fourth quarter of 2010. Their revenue grew 23 percent over the previous year, reaching $14.8 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2010 and $55 billion for the year.

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