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Physical Technology - Phones


Telephones have come a long way since the days of Alexander Graham Bell. What we hold in our hands now seems almost unimaginable in comparison. In 1985, the equivalent of our smartphones was the size of an office, did not have a camera or microphone – and it cost $35 million – it was known as a supercomputer. Fast forward to today and the iPhone x, the current top of the range mobile phone is available for around $1,500. 

Today a smartphone is essentially a computer and a sensor platform. It has 13 sensors in it – accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, magnetometer, barometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, pressure, thermometer, pedometer, microphone, camera, and fingerprint reader.


In 2000 there were approximately 700 million mobile phone accounts on the planet, 30% of them in emerging economies. In 2014 there were estimated to be over 6 billion mobile phone accounts, 75% of them in emerging economies. The world is now totally connected.

This coverage means mobile phones are bringing efficiencies to markets all over the world, they allow demand and supply to more perfectly meet and they reduce wastage which means lower inflation. Thanks to mobile phones people are always reachable.  When we use mobiles to wake up in the morning and check them last thing at night, this extends daily ‘productive hours’ from the traditional 8-hour day, to now closer to 17 hours a day – forever changing working lives.

It also means the pressure to find balance between work, rest and play intensifies. The demand to alleviate this pressure is a challenge for the built environment which must become more flexible in the offer of work, rest and play in a meaningful and convenient location. The relative proximity of home, retail, industrial, office and services is likely to become more important and therefore more desirable in the future.

How successfully businesses adapt and integrate with mobile phones has become key to survival. Connectivity through mapping technology, product review sites and social media have made it easier than ever before for customers to source and compare options, and those businesses that understand and embrace technology thrive in this new economy.

To learn what’s next for digital connectivity, contact Tony Crabb, National Director, Research.

Read more of Cushman & Wakefield’s Futurology series, click here.