What will be the timeframe for smartphone and tablet devices to decimate desktop and laptop computers?
By all accounts, it is already happening. When Tim Cook (CEO at Apple) took the stage in the company's first post-Steve Jobs product launch to announce the iPad 2 in 2011, Cook's staggering statistic was that the iPad had already outsold all of the desktop and laptops sold by their competitors in the previous quarter. That piece of data still hold true as Apple currently has the fourth generation iPad in-market. Beyond the tablet, smartphones have also been steadily outselling desktop and laptop computers as well. While no media pundit is quite sure when (or if) the "year of mobile" happened, we are in the era of the smartphone. Beyond patent debates and legacy OEM manufacturers struggling to keep up, Apple and Android have set a furious pace as brands like Amazon, RIM, Microsoft and others continue to evolve from a personal computer business into a smartphone/tablet offering. It seems like we're moments away from the computer becoming an appliance as the smartphones and tablets become the remote controls for our lives.
The question is this: how long will this last?
Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, can often be found about town wearing his Google Glasses (aka Project Glass). While still in the prototype phase, the promise of Project Glass is a wearable (and highly portable) pair of glasses that gives the user a heads-up display to help connect them to their digital content while blending the information that they're seeing live and in-the-moment with Internet knowledge. Imagine things like taking pictures or seeing directions not by looking at a screen, but by simply seeing it in front of your face without distraction. Imagine being at a holiday party and being able to connect the face of someone whose name you should know to not only their contact information, but their entire social feed.
Sounds creepy? Most new technology does.
What will Apple do next? What is the technology that will disrupt the iPhone and iPad business? If you have read Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography (and I strongly recommend that you do), there was a very telling (and compelling) line from Jobs: "If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will." Do you believe that Apple will now let Google take the lead in the future of connectivity? Do you think they're going to let Samsung, Nokia or even Microsoft leap ahead? You can be certain that deep within the industrial design studios of Jonathan Ive on Apple's corporate campus lies advanced prototypes of technology that either resembles or trumps Project Glass.
Things are about to get weirder as science fiction becomes reality.
You may be moaning that you would never wear a stupid looking pair of glasses that has you blinking, twitching and speaking to activate commands and information. Odds are that you never thought you would need email on the go, a fax machine or any other form of technology until everybody else started using it. Can we clearly point to something like Google's Project Glass and proclaim the end of the smartphone? Not yet, but it may not be as long off into the future as you suspect. On December 3rd, 2012 Business Insider ran a blog post titled, Apple Is Quietly Working To Destroy The iPhone, that points to Apple's penchant for wearable technology mixed with some patent fillings from the summer that Apple calls a, "head-mounted display" or "HMD." From the article: "...computers have been getting smaller and closer to our faces since their very beginning. First they were in big rooms, then they sat on desktops, then they sat on our laps, and now they're in our palms. Next they'll be on our faces."
The end of touch?
We went from controlling technology with keyboards, a mouse and buttons to touch in a flash of the eye. As touch continues to be the focus of smartphones and tablets, perhaps the introductions of technologies like Siri and Xbox's Kinect are really where we should spending more of our attention. The problem, of course, is that should wearable technology that is enabled and enhanced by Siri and Kinect-like technologies become the norm, marketers are (pardon the expression) screwed. As smartphones and tablets take hold with more of the population, marketing professionals are struggling to figure out how to transpose advertising and marketing messages in a succinct and successful way. To date, there are no clear winners in the realm of mobile marketing. Everything is still up for grabs. Just imagine what that could look like once wearable technology over-takes the smartphone and tablet. Many won't even begin to think about this because they believe the event horizon is too far off in the distance. If history (and technology) has taught us anything, it could happen tomorrow. Welcome to the era of exponential growth in business, technology and marketing.
Could the end of the smartphone also spell the end for digital advertising?
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for The Huffington Post called, Media Hacker. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:Tweet
We're a long way off the end of the smartphone. There's a lot of life in the old dog yet! Smartphones are becoming increasingly powerful both in terms of their hardware, software and problems they solve.
Glasses start from scratch. They're immature today, and will be immature for a long time.
What we might start seeing first are glasses that work with your smartphone to enhance and compliment the smartphone experience. PDAs did this when they initially came out by partnering with featurephones, until both technologies merged.
Will the same happen with glasses?
And of course not, digital marketing is going nowhere, but it will evolve.Reply
Really interesting post and a little creepy. As a small business owner who is enjoying the ability to market via mobile devices and social media, I hope that this turn in technology does not once again render small businesses unable to compete.Reply
I thought you hated predicting the future? ;) Is the present-est in you becoming more of a futurist?Reply
I've got a tablet (iPad) and smartphone (Droid 3). The novelty has worn off and the limitations are grating (e.g., unable to use Gmail add-ins, small screen sizes, lack of keyboards). The result? I'm spending more time on my Windows workstation with a dual anti-glare displays and full size keyboard.
I welcome change but I also want to be productive.Reply
This is going to be very interesting to watch, particularly as tablets and smartphones are much lower-margin businesses for the manufacturers than computers have been (see http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57500047-37/latest-rivalry-between-samsung-apple-tablet-margins/, for example).
At some point, volume won't make up for that, particularly with the deep discounting that's been going on.
So, the economics of the thing may well dictate the next big thing... and it may not go the way we are anticipating.Reply
Here's the first thing that comes to mind:
How much junk/trash we're creating because technology is moving so fast. Things aren't getting a chance to get old and worn out. They just go obsolete.
How many corded mice do we have in a box in the closet? How many cellphones that are like new but too slow and missing the exotic features that we demand today?
I don't think that technology should stop just because we're generating too much trash. It's just tough accepting that I can buy a pair of shoes and wear them until they wear out. But a $500 smartphone is going to be useful only until external forces determine that the phone is too slow, doesn't have enough memory, or is missing a great feature that wasn't available when the phone was new.
The other nail in the coffin is going to be pure gestural interfaces (you mentioned Kinect). At CES two years ago, we played with a tiny projector that would put your monitor image on any flat surface interactively, and last year, we got to play with projected keyboards that were ready for OEM production. It felt weird at first, but it's about to be normal.Reply
I think you are talking about interface, not the end of digital. And making that interface more natural and seamless.
This is my favourite TED talk because Pranav made it happen three years ago. http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.htmlReply
I don't think we're done with the smartphone yet... even if technology is growing exponentially, the market has to "learn" to use said technology... and I don't think the market will be able to keep pace with the growth of technology... thus, it will begin resisting technology that comes out faster than it can bear.
IMO, price and quality aren't the only things to consider any longer when selling technology items... we now have to factor in "will the market want to use it, and learn to use it?"Reply
For other smart phone killers, in addition to the Heads Up Display, in the not too distant future we'll also start seeing the proliferation of connected environments and biometrics. Why bother carrying anything with you (glasses or smart phones or otherwise) when the room you're in knows who you are and where your (digital) stuff is? If your walls are displays and your gestures are interactive, you'll be free to connect with the digital where and when you so desire. The Cisco Telepresence product already does a nice job of this on the communications side and the Microsoft Kinect hints at the places gestures can take us.Reply
Um, yeah. How can I use this IPAD at work? I mean, can I develop software applications for my line of business using this thing? Hmm.Reply