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From an article in MIT's Technology Review "Are Smart Phones Spreading Faster than Any Technology in Human History?":
"Presented in the top graphic above is the U.S. market penetration achieved by nine
technologies since 1876, the year Alexander Graham Bell patented the
telephone. Penetration rates have been organized to show three phases of
a technology's spread: traction, maturity, and saturation.
Those technologies with "last mile" problems—bringing electricity
cables or telephone wire to individual homes—appear to spread more
slowly. It took almost a century for landline phones to reach
saturation, or the point at which new demand falls off. Mobile phones,
by contrast, achieved saturation in just 20 years. Smart phones are on
track to halve that rate yet again, and tablets could move still faster,
setting consecutive records for speed to market saturation in the
It is difficult to conclude categorically from the available data that smart phones are spreading faster than any
previous technology. Statistics are not always available globally, and
not every technology is easily tracked. Also, because smart phones have
not yet reached market saturation, as electricity and television have,
the results are still coming in.
Smart phones, after a relatively fast start, have also outpaced nearly any comparable technology in the leap to mainstream
use. It took landline telephones about 45 years to get from 5 percent
to 50 percent penetration among U.S. households, and mobile phones took
around seven years to reach a similar proportion of consumers. Smart
phones have gone from 5 percent to 40 percent in about four years,
despite a recession. In the comparison shown, the only technology that
moved as quickly to the U.S. mainstream was television between 1950 and
MP: How does this fit in with "The Great Stagnation" hypothesis?