Skip to main content

The future of mobile technology and smartphones

Less than a decade ago, most people used either a Blackberry or Nokia as their mobile device. They were the two hottest telecoms in town.

Today, however, Blackberry has effectively admitted failure with barely 1 per cent of the handset market and the launch of an Android phone. Nokia was snapped up by Microsoft and its name has disappeared from the mobile marketplace.

The big players are changing

The body blow was dealt when the iPhone arrived and Blackberry was too slow to react. Mike Lazaridis, who was then co-CEO of Research in Motion, was asked in 2007 about the threat from Apple’s phone. 'How much presence does Apple have in business? It’s vanishingly small,' was his reaction, and he was dismissive of the idea that anyone would want a phone without a keyboard. The response from Nokia’s executives was similar. Only in recent times have they given up on the Symbian software and moved to Windows-based devices.

The fastest sales growth in 2014 was in sales of Windows phones. Microsoft has acquired both Nokia and Skype and is clearing focusing on the telecoms market. In addition, sales of Lync are also expanding meaning they can make a challenge in both the fixed and mobile space. Samsung also play in that space but it is an area where Apple is weak. As devices become more integrated, will Apple’s dominance fade?

One challenge all devices face is battery life. Samsung is strong here and as more energy sapping applications are developed this will become even more pressing. Possibly solar or motion based charging may help to extend use.

Modular smartphones are another potential option. And this is a concept that Google is working on. It will allow users to create their own phone, from clickable components, to their own personal specifications. Their idea, Project Ara will mean if you are using energy consuming elements you can put in a larger battery or carry a spare that is clicked in. It also means less waste if a component breaks just replace it - not the whole phone

Another future trend could be roll up phones. Imagine rolling up your iPad and popping it in your pocket – Apple has already filed patents.

With the increase in the use of mobile devices as a means of payment, security becomes more important. Fujitsu is developing prototypes for Iris recognition and I suspect this will be the way forward as existing devices can monitor eye movement.

For a while now augmented reality has been touted as the next big thing in mobile technology – and it is getting closer. Forget QR codes - the camera will be used to scan something e.g. a street view — and the screen recognises it and makes suggestions about where to eat from what it sees, with price options and online reviews. Using the phone will be less intrusive than iGlasses and the technology is most robust

Finally the other area for development is the move from 2D to 3D smartphones. Some 3D devices are already available and are likely to become the norm. So the next step is likely to be holograms and projective devices. Samsung already filed a patent for a light emitting device that could be built into the front of a smartphone case – but it’s still very power hungry.

Ultimately, the company that addresses the frustration of failing batteries may be the ultimate winner.

Dave Millett at Equinox

Image Credit: Shutterstock/nenetus

Dave Millett
Dave Millett has over 35 years’ experience in the Telecoms Industry. He now runs Equinox, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm.