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The Death of the Smartphone

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Denis.Giri
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how big are your pockets?
Denis.Giri   5/12/2014 4:12:00 AM
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I keep my smartphone in my pocket all the time. And I'm pretty sure a tablet wouldn't fit in there.

If I need to bring a more powerful device (or larger screen), I need a bag. And in that case I'll take a device with a different OS in order to have more apps-options available to me: I'll take my laptop.

 

Do I need a tablet? no, I have a smartphone that can run all the same apps, and I keep it on me all the time.

Will wearing a smartwatch (if I ever buy one) change my device loadout? no, a tablet still doesn't fit in my pocket, and I'll keep a smartphone in my pocket for the foreseeable future.

I might add a replacement battery or charger in order to charge my watch & smartphone on the go, but that's it.

 

Does that mean that tablets will die? no, some other people use their portable device more than me and appreciate the larger screen (and are OK carrying a small bag or whatever)

Does that mean that laptops will die? no, not as long as you can't run all the same apps on tablets & laptops (and that will never happen)

 

So, what will die? nothing and everything.

David Ashton
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Re: The Death of tte Smartphone USER...WHILE Driving
David Ashton   5/3/2014 4:26:05 AM
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@Charles Desassure - Amen to that.  There are enough accidents caused by people using phones now, imagine how much more there would be if people start making video calls while driving.  I have a car kit in my car and I still pull over or ring my caller back if I am in traffic and it's anything more than the wife telling me to get some milk on the way home.  I just don't trust myself to think about 2 things at once.  Here in Australia there are penalties for using phones hand-held while driving, but they are not large enough and certainly are not enforced enough, though that might be changing.  And don't get me started on texting while driving......

pmcw
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I see it differently
pmcw   4/27/2014 11:43:33 AM
 As recently as the late 1990s, we needed an "ammo belt" to carry our basic cell phone, PDA and pager (still used because cell phone minutes were expensive).  And if you were a road warrior, you also lugged your laptop, and maybe a discrete GPS. 

Today, I know many business travelers who carry only a Samsung Note on trips where they won't need to do any heavy compute work.  In short, advances in semiconductor technology fueled the law of integration, and the one thing we needed to carry most (the cell phone) sucked in the surrounding functions.

Going forward, there are two reasons why the role of the smartphone is likely to gain importance rather than lose relevance.

The "communications" device remains the most important function.  True, we use non-voice communications more frequently, and a tablet with a wireless headset can clearly duplicate the cell phone function.  However, it won't fit in your pocket.

The smartphone represents the highest capacity battery, the largest display and highest power processor we will carry.  These facts will become more meaningful going forward.

With the highest capacity battery, largest display and highest power processor, the smartphone is the natural hub for always-on / context aware connectivity.  This connectivity will span the scope of "wearable" (inclusive of implantable) and "environment" connectivity.

While there are a number of smartphones in the market today that have expanded the scope of sensor fusion with sensor hub technology, the hubs that have been deployed so far either have limited functionality / flexibility or take too much power to deliver the real benefits of always-on / context aware computing.  That will likely begin changing late this year or early next year as new hubs are deployed that operate with ~200uW (not standby) power like the QuickLogic ArcticLink 3 S1, and what I think we can reasonably anticipate as future generations that deliver higher utility at lower power.

That said, I think "glass" displays along with more robust text to voice and voice to text technology will also be fairly widely embraced.  These technologies solve the display size and keyboard size problems inherent to smartphones, but since the size of glass solutions don't lend themselves to a large enough battery to deliver all we need, I think they will at best be high-value accessories versus the core personal device.

As you consider my musing, consider the fact that Apple reported a 27% sequential decline in iPad sell-through (37% decline before adjusting for inventory changes), and DigiTimes reported a 30% sequential decline in tablet unit volume for Q1.  Apple even reported a year-over-year decline.  These data do not suggest the tablet is taking over.

What I think we're discovering is there are most certainly very compelling use cases for tablets, but the fact is they don't replace a PC for those of us who need that level of compute power or full support of Microsoft productivity software. 

 

A tablet without a keyboard also has limited utility as a communications device - I certainly wouldn't type a message this long on my tablet (okay - I get it, some readers wish I was using a tablet now).  Therefore, even if you are going to have to write a lot, you'll carry a keyboard with your tablet, and if you do that, you might as well carry a convertible laptop.

The point here is it is all use case driven - if you can get by with a smartphone when you are mobile, you likely will, and when paired with wearables like glasses, its utility will increase (absorb more use cases). 

Charlie Cheng
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Author
Re: Glass
Charlie Cheng   4/26/2014 11:08:49 PM
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Yes, the road will be safer because we won't be using smartphone quite the same in the future and wearables (glass being one method) plays an important role in replacing Smartphone, IMHO.  It's much more accessible than Smartphone, and w/ voice recognition it will do much of what Smartphone does today.  I COMPLETELY AGREE with another post that people better not be doing crazy things w/ tablet while driving ... it's NOT SAFE! 

Charles.Desassure
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Manager
The Death of hte Smartphone...Driving
Charles.Desassure   4/26/2014 11:00:57 AM
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I hope we are not serious about the statement "the road will be safer" with these future devices.  Please do not drive and use your tablet devices.  Remember, all of EETimes readers are not adults.  For example, students (who are 18 years old) do visit this site.  For example, my students are required to visit this site, select a technical article, and write about the content of that article as future engineers and computer professionals.  I do not think we want readers to believe that driving with any tablet device is safe.  It is recommended that we use these tablet devices when we are not driving, please.

JanineLove
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Blogger
Glass
JanineLove   4/25/2014 9:45:42 AM
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Where, if anywhere, does Google Glass fit into this scenario?

JanineLove
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Blogger
Re: Smartphones
JanineLove   4/25/2014 8:52:24 AM
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If the smartphone is absorbed by the tablet, then at least the roads may be safer. Much harder to hold a tablet/phablet up to your ear and drive...

TonyTib
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CEO
Re: Smartphones
TonyTib   4/24/2014 7:17:14 PM
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I suspect one difference between China & US is the density.  Even here is Silicon Valley, if I go drive along, I might continuously sniff out WiFi signals, but can't connect to most of them - because they're not publically available signals.  Publically available WiFi signals have nowhere near the coverage of 3G/4G, unless you spend your entire life at home, work, and Starbucks.


I doubt it'll catch on, but another model is a compact MiFi box that provides WiFi (and maybe Bluetooth/BLE) connectivity that everything else (dialer, tablet, wwearables, laptop) can connect too.  After all, why duplicate connectivity?

Going to the ISP model will hurt the MNO, of course, since the actual cost of voice and SMS is much, much less than the price charged.  To get an idea, think of what SIP telephony costs.  There are some MVNOs (such as Republic Wireless) that are already moving to VoIP (using data for all communications) -- Republic charges $10/month for "unlimited" voice (but I suspect if too many of your minutes are on 3G/4G instead of WiFi, you might be limted....)

joondan
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Rookie
Re: Smartphones
joondan   4/24/2014 6:29:52 PM
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The level of innovation on the smartphone itself is definitely yielding less and less fundamentally important changes.. my 'ancient' galaxy s2 with an oversized battery attached still does more or less everything i want it to do, with the exception of the terrible battery life clumsily resolved.  The cpu, chipset, antenna, software, and display industries have all been 'innovating' around the same stagnant battery technology to use less power while doing more.  But apart from battery life, only the higher res display and maybe the cameras on current models really seem like a tangible step up.

Actually, I came across a video recently making the broader claim that 'mobile is dead':

http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/15/5619182/android-design-head-matias-duarte-says-mobile-is-dead

His point comes from the software side of engineering, focusing not on how multiple devices will be consolidated into fewer machines, but rather that software will eventually cease to be siloed from one device to the next, allowing for effortless transitioning between different form factors for different situations, from home to car to work and beyond.

Seems logical

Charlie Cheng
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Author
Re: Smartphones
Charlie Cheng   4/24/2014 5:22:12 PM
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When long distance call became competitive, AT&T got bought by baby-bell, and then the baby bells got bought by smaller firms (Worldcom started out as prison phone booth operator), etc.  So mobile carriers have a LOT to lose when their profits are taken out.  You are right, I don't care about them; I care about my love ones much more.  HOWEVER, if they don't subsidize the smartphones, I am not sure people buy as often, and if people don't buy as often, I am not sure if handset makers can afford to be as aggressive on innovation (if you call it that).  Being in the semiconductor business, yes, I do care a LOT about making sure someone pays for the innovation upfront, so the consumers don't have to sweat too much about enjoying it :-)  

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