Why Aren’t Smartphones Making Us More Productive?

Imagine you woke up each morning, strapped a keyboard, monitor, Wi-Fi receiver, desktop computer, camera and stereo to your body, and ventured clumsily out the door.Of course, you’re already doing it. You’re using a smartphone, and today that thin slab has roughly the same computing power as the powerful desktops of 2005.We regard these hand-held machines as game devices, Web browsers and messaging tools. But at heart they are like all computers before them. They are efficiency engines, a means of saving time, bridging distance, reducing cost.Yet there’s something bizarre going on. Even as an estimated 130 million smartphones roam the U.S. streets, economists can’t quite find them.By that I mean they can’t find how these mobile devices are improving worker productivity, which computers have been doing quite ruthlessly for the last 70 years. Productivity is the reason living standards rise. It’s why we have more goods and services than our grandparents could imagine.

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