Where will the underlying wave of technological and commercial innovation strike next in smartphones? Three answers deserve attention. 1. More smartphones
The first answer is that the smartphone market is poised to become much larger. The current growth spurt is going to continue. More and more people are going to be using smartphones and downloading and using more and more applications. This growth will be driven by:
Decreasing costs of smartphone devices Improved network connectivity An ever-wider range of different applications tailored to individual needs of individual mobile consumers Improved quality of applications, networks, and devices driven by fierce competition Burgeoning word-of-mouth recommendations as people tell each other about compelling mobile services that they come across.
Perhaps one day soon, more than 50 percent of all mobile phones will be built using smartphone technology.
The second answer is that smartphones are going to become smarter and more capable. The improvements will be so striking that the phrase "smartphone" won't do them justice. Google used a new term, "superphone," when it introduced the NexusOne device. The company wrote:
Nexus One is an exemplar of what's possible on mobile devices through Android when cool apps meet a fast, bright and connected computer that fits in your pocket. The Nexus One belongs in the emerging class of devices which we call "superphones". It's the first in what we expect to be a series of products which we will bring to market with our operator and hardware partners and sell through our online store.
Newer smartphones whatever we call them typically manifest a lot more of the capabilities of the computing technology that's embedded into them. The result is:
More powerful applications Delivering more useful functionality.
The first answer, above, is that smartphones are going to become significantly more numerous. The second answer is that smartphones are going to become significantly more powerful. I believe both these answers. These answers are both easy to understand. But there's a third answer, which is just as true as the first two and perhaps even more significant.
Smartphone technology is going to become more and more widely used inside numerous types of devices that don't look like smartphones. These devices aren't just larger than smartphones (like superphones). They are different from smartphones, in all kinds of ways.
If the motto "smartphones for all" drove a great deal of the development of the mobile industry during the decade 2000-2010, a new motto will become increasingly important in the coming decade: "Smartphone technology everywhere." This describes a new wave of embedded software:
Traditional embedded software is when computing technology is used inside devices that do not look like computers; The new wave of embedded software is when smartphone technology is used inside devices that do not look like smartphones.
For want of a better term, we can call these devices "subphones;" the underlying phone functionality is submerged (or embedded).
Great article. One of the area in my opinion that will see a surge would be the Gaming. As newer and powerful converged computing devices are being developed, the focus will changed from traditional gaming (on PCs) to mobile phones and tablets. The Motorola Xoom tablet, was recently certified by Sony as "PlayStation Certified device". Microsoft has already integrated Xbox support in the their latest OS. This is just the beginning and I am sure we will see more of these in the coming years.
It might help to simply drop "phone" from the description. Phone implies a device intended to place and receive voice calls. What we are getting is a new wave of connected handheld devices where placing/receiving calls may not be the main use for the device. Indeed, the device may not be a phone at all.
I'm *not* converged. My cell phone is the cheapest, lowest end device Nokia makes. All it does is place/receive calls and do SMS messaging. That's all I *want* it to do. Why? Form factor.
The problem is that we want our cell phones tiny, but a tiny device means a tiny screen. Too much of what I want to do simply requires a larger screen than most hand held devices have, and if it has a big enough screen, it's likely too big to be a conveniently usable phone. Hi-res screens and innovative UIs can only go so far.
My companion device is an old PDA. It has a 320x480 color screen, and is capable of viewing videos and photos, playing MP3s, doing word processing and spreadsheets, viewing ebooks (about half of what I use it for), handling standard PIM activities...and oh, yes, it plays games. I wouldn't mind an even larger screen. It wouldn't fit in a pocket, but I don't carry it in a pocket anyway.
I'm not interested in a "superphone". I *am* interested in the new wave of connected Android powered devices based on ARM processors, with larger screens and greater capability.
If a vendor wants to make me happy, they'll release a device in two parts: a *small* handset that can place/receive calls and do SMS, and a larger companion that will do everything else. Each part should work stand alone, but should work together if both are present (possibly via Bluetooth connectivity)
No one is doing that, alas.
Smartphones are becoming more powerful with added new features. However, I am yet to see any evolutionary or path breaking innovations. There is urgent need for that or else mobile phone market may loose its prime market position.
Eventually, the "phone" device will begin to replace desktop PCs. A person will be able to carry all of their computing capacity and all of their local data along with them in their hyper-phone (Super-duper phone?). As the processing capability of low-power CPUs grows, it will reach a point at which it will be able to run word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, video and the other standard productivity applications.
A few things need to happen first though. Obviously, the low-power CPUs must get faster and/or the fast CPUs must drop in power consumption. That's probably the easy part.
We'll need wireless input and output devices. Yes, you can watch a movie on a 3" screen, but that won't do in the case of a primary computing device; seamless wireless technology for text entry, software navigation and display are prerequisites.
Next, are some real standards - and the phone companies can't be in control of the UI/User experience. It won't work unless there is one format for each document type that crosses between hyper-phone, home desktop and work desktop, of every brand. Remember the days when there were thirty different word processing programs, each with their own file format and command structure? Not going to work.
There will still be conventional desktops and laptops, but they will diminish in quantity and migrate toward specialized and maximum performance applications.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for todays commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.