Smartphones have been the cutting edge of mobile device innovation over the last 10 years with a few notable innovation periods:
- 2004 & earlier: PDAs integrated phones, RIM blackberry for corporate email
- 2005-2007 Multimedia computers: Nokia lead this effort with it’s multimedia computers capable of excellent imaging capabilities, carl zeiss optics, xeon flash with devices like N82, N95.
- 2007 Touchscreen devices : The last major innovation boost was with the original iPhone in 2007 which brought in the era of finger friendly simple interfaces, app store and a few other concepts.
- 2008 Open Devices: Open platform innovation with Google’s Android with prior attempts from Nokia’s Maemo platform.
- 2009-present: Most of the focus seems to have shifted to building a ecosystem of developers, integrated services. However, devices innovation is mainly around incorporating faster application processors like OMAP, Snapdragon & Tegra.
The last couple of years I am seeing a slowing down in smartphone device innovation. Recently manufacturers are exploring other mobile form factors (aka tablets, ebook readers) and are trying to shift their focus away from innovating with smartphones. This situation presents a great opportunity for the next wave of disruptive innovation for the most innovating and daring companies that might just take the industry by surprise (similar to what Apple did in 2007 with the iPhone). Some technologies to watch out for include:
- Natural User Interfaces
- Context Awareness computing
- Morphable mobile devices with flexible displays & fluid interfaces
- Material science breakthroughs
What do you think will be the next disruptive innovation in smartphones? And where is it likely to come out of?