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There’s An App for That: How Smartphones and Apps Have Changed Us

The court battle between Apple and Samsung over smart phones has got consumers chattering the world over.

The smart phone market is roiling. Analysts are issuing daily updates on the outlook for the multi-billion-dollar mobile technology industry. But what is most remarkable is that people are talking – excitedly, even heatedly – about Apple’s $1.05 billion victory over Samsung, its aggressive South Korean rival. This is personal.

When a California court found Samsung guilty of patent infringement last week, it was a blockbuster business story and landmark ruling. But those don’t usually spill over into our daily lives. This one has. It is as if the smartphones attached to our belts have been endorsed or attacked, as if our team lost or won.

In practical terms, the ruling will have no immediate consequences for Canadians. It applies only to the U.S. market. Moreover, it affects only eight of Samsung’s older models, which were near the end of their commercial lives. The most likely ramification is that Samsung, which undercut Apple prices using Google’s cheaper Android software, will raise its prices.

It is too early to tell whether the judgment will knock Samsung out of second place in the mobile phone market or to predict whether Apple will become so litigious that it stifles innovation.

But one legacy is already clear. The case brought into sharp relief how attached people have become to their smart phones and how much they have changed cultures, economies and social norms around the world. We’ve all been caught up and swept away by a brave new world of apps.

A decade ago, most consumers would have considered it unthinkable to pay $100 a month (or more) for a phone. Now many do it readily. Five years ago, parents wouldn’t have dreamt of sending a child to elementary school with a smart phone. Now it is accepted.

In Africa, remote villages which never had phone service are now connected. In Asia, countries with few resources and modest trade balances have become technological titans.

Corporate executives check their e-mail during meetings and presentations. People text in restaurants, theatres, shopping centres and, unwisely, in traffic. They bank on their smart phones, get highway directions, take pictures, organize…

Read more: The Star


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