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You’ve got a smartphone, don’t you?
It’s not even a question of “if” anymore. Instead, people completely bypass the “if” and jump straight to, “Which one do you have?”
We rely on our smartphones to talk to our family across the ocean or to meet a stranger and maybe fall in love or to plan a surprise birthday party for our best friend. Maybe you use it for all three. But the point is, our smartphone is an extension of ourselves, whether we’ve realized it or not.
But they’re not perfect, and neither are the companies pumping out your favorite brands. These devices can help us in many ways, but they’re also hindering us and making us vulnerable to life-altering realities.
This SWOT analysis of smartphones leaps into why we depend so heavily on our devices, why we shouldn’t, and what’s happening to those of us who can’t put it down.
Strengths: There’s something for everyone
Smartphones are split into two types of operating systems: Android and iOS. You’ll only see iOS on Apple-branded products, such as iPhones. But many outside companies have adopted Android, including Samsung and Google. Both operating systems have their pros and cons, but people will buy the next upgrade of their phone based purely on brand loyalty.
That means, someone who owns the iPhone 8 will, eventually, upgrade to the iPhone X. The newer features are enticing, but the big factor is the customers’ trust of the brand. Trust makes it easier to say “Yes!” to an upgrade, even if it’ll cost over $1,000 just for the phone.
This isn’t just true for iPhone users. People will happily jump to the newest phone the moment it comes out. That includes Samsung lovers or Pixel fans.
We know that most people, especially the younger generations, have a smartphone. They use it as their “all-in-one mini computer on the go.” You can take notes, schedule your appointments, watch your favorite videos or scroll through the internet — whether you’re in class or on the subway. Once we were given access to data, the ability to connect to the internet with a phone, their place in our life was cemented. Goodbye flip phones and those old Nokia bricks!
The development of smartphones has created more job opportunities too. Not just for the people building these phones and shipping them out, but for people who create apps.
Whether you want to track calories, learn meditation, or play the latest mobile game, there’s likely an app available on both Android and iOS. Mobile games often come packed with in-game purchases — that’s where game companies like Candy Crush make their millions. But you can only make that kind of money if your app is popular, of course. Too many apps are created and left for dead in the marketplace, never to be downloaded by anyone.
Our phones are a fantastic business assistant. Workers can check their email on the go, allowing them to easily facilitate communication within the office and out. Many businesses are born just to create productivity apps to help other companies grow. It’s because of these apps that some owners are beginning to work remotely. Some are actively hiring employees across the world to cut costs (it’s cheaper than hiring someone to work in an office!).
Weaknesses: Attention and (lack of) security
Attention. Where is yours right now?
People have been growing weary about the ways smartphones zap users’ attention. In schools, teachers can’t give successful lectures while people are trying — none too discreetly — to respond to texts, messages, or chat on social media using their smart devices. While smartphones were initially touted for their ability to increase communication from anywhere in the world, it’s now become a device of relentless ads, notifications, and messages.
Instead of cuddling up with a loved one to watch a movie in the evening, people are spending more time gazing at their phones. What was once a device to help us take control of our work and personal lives, has now developed into an uncontrollable force stealing our time and diminishing our cognitive abilities.
Additionally, people are putting their entire lives on their devices. From pictures to saved passwords for every site they use, it’s not uncommon for a stranger to say their phone is their life. But that puts us at risk for data and security breaches. If someone gets access to your phone, what else can they have? Your credit card info? PayPal access? The login to your bank?
Despite putting everything you can fit onto these smart devices, which can have over 200 gigabytes of storage — more than some Apple computers! — these phones aren’t a replacement for laptops or computers.
So many mobile apps are limited and only offer the features on a computer. Writers may find it difficult to type up long drafts on such a small screen. Accountants may decide Excel and similar apps are too much of a hassle to use on their phones. As much as we view smartphones as these constantly developing devices, they’re not the “be-all, end-all” for communication and productivity.
Opportunities: Not all of them are good
Smartphones, once the heroes of rapid technological growth, are slowly transforming into an incomplete device.
Recently, the iPhone 7 lost their headphone jack. This was a staple for any smartphone, regardless of the brand. Now, if you want to use your run-of-the-mill headset, you’ll need to buy a separate dongle or Apple’s specific Bluetooth earbuds. Even though online forums lit up with complaints, customers still continue to support the company who made such as massive change.
This isn’t an opportunity for the customer, but it is for every phone company and carrier. Companies already sell unique phone cases, covers, and sleeve to jazz up your device. They provide protectors to not crack or shatter your screen. But now the companies who create your favorite device can take away basic and necessary features to sell it right back to you. Buying the product afterwards only proves to the company they can take it away, and no one will truly care.
Additionally, we’re more at risk than ever to have our information stolen from security breaches. Every day a new but popular website reveals they were hacked. Logins, credit card info, and passwords are swiped, leaving you vulnerable, especially if you use the same password for other accounts. You can use programs that change your passwords or make them difficult to crack, but companies have to be ready for these attempted breaches.
Threats: Scams, scams, and more scams!
It’s possible to get spyware, a type of software allowing your information to be stolen, on your smartphone device — regardless if it uses Android or iOS. You could end up downloading a perfectly normal-looking app that instantly installs this spyware without your knowledge.
Then, as you surf around using your apps, it secretly collects the data and sends it to someone who can use it against you. This is becoming common but the Google Play Store (for Android) has upped its security to prevent this from becoming an everyday occurrence.
Additionally, when you use the internet, it’s possible to come across the ad and click fraud. You accidentally click on an ad that says your device is compromised! But that’s not true. If you download the software they suggest then it’s comprised. You may have your credentials and information stolen.
Even though this may seem obvious. But your grandmother or child, both less tech-savvy than you, are prime targets. And that’s exactly what these scammers are hoping for. Smart devices become a vehicle for these type of scams, and there’s only so much the company and operating system can do.