For the last couple of years, I have been pointing out to clients in the mobile communications industry that the personal smartphone market was ripe for growth. In fact now we see the emergence of this area as a product segment of its own, growing out of a desire for better screen and keyboard designs for input and reading than standard phones provide, and by the experiences many adults had, particularly women and older teens, of having devices such as other family members' Blackberries around the house or provided to them by employers.
Now it's common to see people with their own personal Blackberries or smartphones who aren't road warriors but simply frequent communicators. It's also somewhat common to see two-smartphone owners--with one for work, and one for personal use--as prices fall and older models become easily available.
One growth area within this set is the domestic head-of-household, moms in particular. Today's Washington Post highlights the growing use of texting by parents to keep up with their kids and communicate with other text-addicted family members. This only touches on the tail end of the trend--in fact, more moms (and dads) are using these devices to communicate with their own smartphone wielding kids and relations, using the personal information management applications onboard to keep track of family needs and events just the same as they would use these application for work.
What is interesting is how slowly device manufacturers and operators have caught on to what was happening under their noses. RIM took some of the first steps to address it with the Blackberry Pearl, which Palm followed by dressing up the Treo and now offering the Centro. Most operators have taken the view that Roger Entner of IAG Research offered in the article: that texting is perfect for busy moms because it doesn't require costly data packages or high-end devices. For some that's true, but we are already seeing evidence of rapid migration onto smartphones due to falling device costs, ease of use, and growth of this segment from the teen and sub-teen side. The smartphone family pack is right around the corner.
Presidential candidates take notice: forget Soccer Moms or even Nascar Moms, it's time to target the Crackberry Family: overpressured, constantly connected with little face-to-face family time, struggling to manage fragmented lives and stay in touch. (Image: edans/Flickr)