Smartphones will continue to exist. But most of the value is in their modem functions. They allow other device to get connected to the outside world. In that context, I see the battle for innovation competition unfolding not in smartphones, but "things" that are connected to smartphones.
In addition to what you mentioned, the core of the smart phone may be changing quite radically too. Or, at least Google might think it will. Combine a 2nd or 3rd generation Google Glass type device with a 2nd or 3rd generation smart watch and the need for a phone, as we know it today, simply goes away.
A few years ago, I could see desktop and laptop computers being replaced by wireless display and keyboard in combination with a smart phone. Today, I can see the phone component of that picture being replaced by something in a completely different form factor.
But I think a more realistic scenario is that smartphones' functions aren't entirely hijacked by such peripherals as Google Glass or smartphones. Instead, the smartphones' capabilities will be diminished to, say, LTE modem.
Why I say that? It's because it's still hard for me to imagine that so many people who already have smartphones today will trade their phones with Google Glass!
That makes a lot of sense, but at some point, if the only major component is the LTE modem, it could be stick into the watch of Glass - maybe. I can see the display as a big variable. If people like the Glass type display, then they'll likely not care to carry around a phone size display.
Those that aren't comfortable obscuring their vision might still need to carry around s poakcet display. Maybe that display, then, is just a display and an LTE modem.
Humans love to see patterns even where none exist but I think the conclusion the writer came to is much stretched. Most large companies in the valley have lots of cash that they use to buy up companies on an impulse and years later shut them down or sell them for a write-off. Intel, Cisco, Symantec, Google, Microsoft .... look at their acquisition history and make up your mind. I would argue the three events are barely connected. With the Motorola acquisition, I don't think Google ever intended to get into the hardware business. If they were serious about getting into smartphone hardware, why wouldn't their Motorola unit produce the Google Nexus line of phones and tablets? From day one, all they wanted was Motorola's IP (to defend against patent lawsuits) and the skunkworks division and they are keeping those after the Lenovo deal. The Samsung deal was some time in the making. Such deals don't happen overnight with all the legalese involved especially given all the suing going around Android. Nest? I will chalk it up against an impulse buy. A hardware business with low entry barrier. Already there are Nest competitors, both old and new, that are offering similar products. Give it a few years, Google will get out of Nest. Right now Google is just a confused teenager who doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. All they know is ads brings lots of dollars and they have lots and lots of them in the bank.
jnashee wrote: Right now Google is just a confused teenager who doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up.
IMO Google knows exactly what it is: a company that sells advertising. Lots and lots of advertising. That's how they make their money, and IMO the whole point of smart phones as far as Google is concerned is to deliver more adverts and charge more because they're "better focused". Without Android, there is no way for Google to prevent Apple and Microsoft from taking over delivery of adverts, cutting off Google's lifeblood.
Patent lawsuits are a plague on a company like Google. They distract them from working on new ways to deliver adverts. If you're a cash-rich company like Google, you can either hoard cash and wait for others to sue you, or you can spend that money up front and take patents out of circulation so others aren't using them against you. Defense is expensive, but cheaper than wars of attrition.
Many people deduced that Google bought Motorola to get a bunch of patents and the hardware really didn't matter. In fact, the idea that Google could make phones that competed with Samsung and other Android producers created a degree of concern that Google might spoil their ecosystem, as Microsoft did by coming up with its own Windows 8 hardware. Selling off the Motorola hardware puts these fears to rest.
IMO, to Google, hardware has always been a commodity.
What is important to Google is the software and "services" that they provide from the use of the hardware, because it's profitable and sustainable. HW simply is not profitable nor sustainable, othewise for example Microsoft wouldn't be selling their XBox at a lost. And Microsoft is now trying to sell their software as 'services', instead of like a 'product'.
With that said, Google still needs to be involved in some aspect of HW, that's because they must realized their new concepts, being a tech leader and product/system definer. Especially the ones in the R&D. Otherwise, it's just all tell and no show. But once a new concept is realized and takes off, they'll throw away the HW and maintain the software and "services".