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Cramer: Smartphones Set Off Sea Change

The next great product cycle is upon us, Cramer said Wednesday, and it will trump almost all the other bad news we hear about the economy.

This is big. Like, right up there with the personal computer. Or the switch to e-mail from snail mail and the rise of the Web. What is it? Smartphones and mobile Internet. Cramer called this the first true secular growth trend in ages, and Wall Street hasn’t yet realized its significance.

Smartphones have gone from luxuries to necessities. We need these high-tech gadgets like we need cable television. Think about it: When is the last time you fidgeted with a rabbit-ear antennae? Used a library’s card catalogue? Read a hard-copy newspaper? These days it’s TV remotes, Google and The New York Times free online. Well, smartphones are no longer any different.

Now we have cameras, e-mail, the Internet and any number of other applications, literally, in the palm of our hand. Smartphones have made our lives easier as a result, thanks to Palm, Apple and Research in Motion. This kind of sea change doesn’t have a saturation level, Cramer said, so the people who dismiss the trend are wrong.

As the product cycle revs up, it carries with it all the companies that make parts for the iPhone or BlackBerry or Pre, firms like Starent Networks, Skyworks Solutions, Texas Insturments, RF Micro Devices and the other chipmakers. The phone companies – AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Verizon – are getting in on the action, too, building out their wireless networks to accommodate the public’s demand for these handsets.

Cramer’s favorite play on this? Qualcomm , which created the technology that makes so much of this possible, he said. For investors who want to play the big three in this game – AAPL, RIMM, PALM – Cramer recommended easing in a bit at a time. As their share prices drop, buy more.

Cramer's charitable trust owns Qualcomm.

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  • Jim Cramer

    Jim Cramer is host of CNBC's "Mad Money" and co-anchor of the 9 a.m. ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

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