It was the year 2007. Beyoncé's "Irresistible" was on the radio. Spider-Man 3 topped the box office. And Barack Obama and John McCain were vying for the presidency. At the start of that year, the world had never heard of a mobile app. Back then, the Internet was largely something you connected to with your Mac or PC. And, tablets? They were simply pads of paper. Angry birds still were on telephone wires, not smartphones. Also in that pivotal year, the mortgage meltdown was upon us, Wall Street was in disarray and serious questions were raised (and continue to this day) about the future of the U.S. economy.
Just five short years later, the mobile landscape has changed radically -- and is clearly defined by consumer choice. Today, Americans can choose from hundreds of smartphones made by 21 manufacturers that run on four different operating systems. And the iPhone is offered by seven competing service providers and counting. The most popular mobile operating platform in America today isn't made by Apple. It's Android, created by Google, which operates on many devices by a range of manufacturers.
Lower prices have led to a sharp uptick in smartphone adoption. Today, the average consumer spends about $135 for their device -- roughly half their market value.
Why? Competition. Companies often subsidize the devices in order to attract value-driven consumers to their service. They also offer countless services plans to choose from. As a result, the U.S. has the most smartphone users in the world. In fact, there are now more mobile devices than people in the United States.
Today, mobile innovation is helping power our nation's economic recovery. The wireless sector supports 2.4 million American jobs and adds $100 billion each year to U.S. GDP. These jobs extend beyond the technology world, powering small business growth, as well as expansion and innovation in manufacturing, healthcare and most other leading sectors of our economy -- progress that makes U.S. workers and companies more competitive around the world.
What drives this economic growth? Market-driven enthusiasm -- from U.S. consumers and businesses alike -- for the continual pipeline of products, services and choices that mobile innovators provide. Wireless is especially important for small businesses. Over the past 15 years, small firms created 64% of new jobs in this country. Virtually all small businesses rely on mobile connectivity, and 40% of small business owners in a recent survey say they couldn't survive without wireless technologies.
Thanks to a light-touch approach by our government, mobile innovators are able to anticipate and respond directly to consumer and business wants and needs. This has led to a pace of innovation and a proliferation of consumer choices across the spectrum of wireless products and services that no regulatory regime could have come close to mandating. Consumer-driven competition has placed the U.S. wireless sector in prime position to help revive our nation's innovation economy and it is in all our interests to maintain policies that continue to help foster the dynamic U.S. mobile market.
Jonathan Spalter, chairman of Mobile Future (www.mobilefuture.org), has been founding CEO of leading technology, media, and research companies, including Public Insight, Snocap, and Atmedica Worldwide. He served in the Clinton Administration as a Director on the National Security Council.