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Is smartphone innovation dead?

19 Feb 2020

The idea of ‘peak smartphone’ is quietly threatening consumer confidence in the smartphone industry and scaring smartphone developers like Apple and Samsung.

Mobile app and software development company Elegant Media’s CEO and co-founder Anushka Bandara says ‘peak smartphone’ is a controversial idea in the smartphone industry; the idea that smartphones have reached their ‘peak’ in terms of innovation and technology.

Proponents of ‘peak smartphone’ argue that smartphones haven’t changed that much since their peak period of innovation that occurred when Steve Jobs was at the helm of Apple after the iPhone’s release in June 2007.

“Many years after Apple released the first smartphone in 2007, every year delivered a new groundbreaking innovation to smartphones. Apple, Samsung and Google pioneered the touch screen, app stores, GPS navigation, front-facing cameras, voice assistants, bigger screens, retina displays, iCloud and 3D touch,” Bandara says.

“Over the past few years, however, there’s been a criticism that smartphones haven’t really changed that much. Years ago, iPhone upgrades made headline news as people waited outside Apple stores for days to buy the latest iPhone. Nowadays, does anyone really know the difference between this year’s iPhone and last year’s iPhone? We don’t hear nearly as much about people setting up camp outside their local Apple store.

“Consumers don’t really get excited by CPU, RAM and battery life upgrades, which a lot of people view as the only real differences between smartphones nowadays. In 2020, there just isn’t the same incentive to upgrade your smartphone every year.”

However, Bandara believes that the idea of peak smartphone may not be as accurate as a lot of commentators believe. 

He states that although the concept has some merit, it disregards the ongoing enhancements that are constantly being rolled out and the genuine innovations expected in the coming years.

“It’s true that smartphones haven’t changed that much over the past five years, at least compared to the period before then. It’s undeniable that people are upgrading their smartphones far less often today than they were a few years ago,” Bandara continues.

“However, this doesn’t mean innovation has become extinct in the smartphone industry. Just because innovation isn’t as frequent, it doesn’t mean the age of innovation is already over. There is still a lot to come.”

Bandara points to foldable screen technology, holograms, personal assistants and camera technology as examples of potential areas for continued innovation.

However, he points to the internet of things as holding the greatest potential for the future of smartphones.

“The internet of things industry is already surging and growth is expected to exceed predictions in the coming years. Smartphones are becoming better at communicating with people’s laptops, smartwatches, televisions and tablets, appliances like fridges, security equipment and other valuables such as pets.”