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As Smartphone Technology Matures, What Comes Next?

With the now ubiquitous presence of these devices, it is time to start looking for its inevitable decline, as the technology evolution goes forward

LOS ANGELES � What�s amazing about radio broadcasting is how it persists, and remains viable, even with the continual evolution of technology. The days of the transistor radio are ancient history (to most people anyway,) and the modern equivalent is now, of course, the smartphone. We all know that.�

With the now ubiquitous presence of these devices, it is time to start looking for its inevitable decline, as the technology�evolution goes forward. James Manning Smith, writing in a blog entry on TWICE, thinks so.�

�Since 2011, the personal electronics market has almost entirely converged around the smartphone. In 2017, we expect 2.6 billion personal device shipments, of which smartphones will account for 68% � compared with 1.3% for standalone cameras and personal A/V products, which at their peak comprised almost 20% of the personal electronics market volume,� writes Manning.� �…there is a view that tangible advances to smartphones have slowed in the last few years. High-end or flagship smartphones are almost homogeneous. Competition in both hardware and software is difficult when the �ultimate� smartphone design, use case and feature set have been found.�

So what comes next, after the smartphone?

�������Certain smartphone functions are already transferring to other discrete �devices.� By this Manning means Alexa, Google Home, and Apple�s newly announced HomePod. The popularity of these devices in the home shows that mobile handset are not the only way consumers want to access and control services and hardware.

�������The smartwatch market has stalled, but there is longer-term opportunity for wrist-bound devices. There are benefits for some smart functionality � like for greater security from a payment device being attached to the body, as opposed to being loose in our pockets.

�������eSIM will remove the need for a physical SIM card allowing multiple device registrations under one network identity. Tethered eye-wear, watches, wearable cameras and other independent screens or devices could take the smartphone�s place, resembling the more diverse standalone personal electronics model from 20 years ago.

�As the consumer IoT and smart-home markets progress, we will see less and less reliance on the smartphone. Ultimately, we could be deconstructing aspects of the mobile phone as usage of certain functions transfer to more appropriate form factors, based on convenience, security and improved experience,� said Manning. �The smartphone will, most probably, remain the most important personal electronics device for consumers for the foreseeable future, but as technology progresses, we will not rely on or be limited to the smartphone forever. The smartphone market will eventually fall. New standalone devices will come to market and, inevitably, another product will again push these from relevance.�