Most Buyers to Pay Under $100 for Smartphones by 2020

In addition, by 2018 some 40 percent of enterprises will use WiFi as the default connection for in-office, non-mobile devices, Gartner predicts.

mobile and wireless

By 2020, some 75 percent of smartphone buyers will be able to spend less than $100 to get a full-featured device that fills their greatest mobile phone needs, while by 2018, some 40 percent of businesses will be using WiFi in their offices to replace wired connections for a wide range of devices, according to new projections unveiled by research firm Gartner.

The new predictions, laid out in a Dec. 8 report by Gartner mobile analysts Ken Dulaney and Van Baker, also say that they expect more businesses to be assembling mobile apps by 2018 using tools that are easy to operate by businesspeople who are not trained in writing code. More than half of such business-to-employee apps will be written this way, according to the report, titled "Predicts 2015: Mobile and Wireless."

Dulaney, one of the authors of the predictions, told eWEEK in a Dec. 8 interview that the developing trends are things that he and Baker are seeing and hearing as they scour the marketplace, talk with clients and customers and analyze the future of the world of mobile enterprise computing.

The idea that some 75 percent of smartphone buyers will be able to spend less than $100 to buy a well-rounded device by 2020 may be hard to fathom today, but it is something that will be apparent in just a few years, said Dulaney.

"You're going to see really powerful devices for under $100," he said. "You're going to see the Android market become flush with beautiful, outstanding phones."

What buyers today can find is that they can pay many hundreds of dollars for their phones and then don't use all the features and capabilities in the devices, said Dulaney. "A lot of the high-end phones, they're just eye candy today. If you really look two years down the road [after buying your device] at what you really used, then you probably overpaid for what you needed."

And even at under $100, the features in the phones will remain high, as well as their capability levels, he said. "These phones [will be] really good. Most people just want the basics. You're going to see beautiful 5-inch screen phones, really thin, for not much money."

For users, it will be a significant change from today's more costly devices, he said. "That to me is a pretty big deal," said Dulaney. "This is huge."

Another big change coming in the next few years is that enterprises will be replacing wired infrastructure in their fixed offices with WiFi on an increasing basis because it is simpler and more flexible, said Dulaney. Gartner estimates that, by 2018, some 40 percent of enterprises will specify WiFi as the default connection for non-mobile devices, such as desktops, desk phones, projectors and conference room gear.

"This is significant because clients need to realize that WiFi is not an optional thing anymore—it is mission-critical," said Dulaney. "Customers still today see WiFi as an optional thing. What we are saying here is that it is time to roll it out everywhere" in an enterprise.

That means using WiFi to connect office desktop PCs, in-office printers and everything else inside a company, he said. "You might even do VOIP phones over WiFi rather than buying desk phones anymore. For enterprises, VOIP is quite good now."

One benefit of WiFi in offices is that it will give employees the ability to choose any device and move it anywhere when they want to reconfigure their spaces, according to Gartner.

"Ethernet cabling has been the mainstay of the business workspace connectivity since the beginning of networking," Dulaney said in a statement. "However, as smartphones, laptops, tablets and other consumer devices have multiplied, the consumer space has largely converted to a wireless-first world. As bring your own device (BYOD) has increased in many organizations, the collision of the business and consumer worlds has changed workers' demands."