As I’m sitting here waiting until 3 am so that I can pre-order the new iPhone X, I keep thinking about how appreciative I am for the last ten years of the iPhone. The iPhone has had a transformative impact on society (although not always for the better). Beyond that, the smartphone has opened massive doors of innovation and opportunity within technology. It’s too bad that we’re nearing the end of the road for the smartphone.

As I said in my last post – we are the beginning of a radical change in human/computer interaction. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, computer vision, conversational UI’s and new breeds of sensors are about to fundamentally change not only the way that we interact with information but will have far-reaching impacts into how to live, work and experience life.

The future is now

“The future is already here it’s just not evenly distributed” – William Gibson

Looking over that sample of technologies and I’m sure that you realized that these are all ideas that we’ve talked and dreamed about for decades. Sci-Fi books and movies have been painting for us a dream of more natural ways of interacting with our computers.

Star Trek: The next generation painted a dream of being able to interact with our computers and sensors using natural language with only our voice.

Her demonstrated the wonder of having a digital personal assistant who could manage the day-to-day activities of our lives

Iron Man is famous for the holographic displays that Tony stark used to overlay and interact with data

Next year, Ready Player One will (hopefully) provide a vision of the dream where we can completely immerse ourselves into a digital world and experience a reality outside of our own.

And in the same way that the communicators in the original Star Trek tv show inspired the smartphone – these dreams will soon become a reality

We’ve seen attempts at bring these to life in the past, but they were always too expensive and not powerful enough for the average consumer. But that’s all changed thanks to the smartphone.

Each year that we’ve had a new generation of smartphones battling each other with faster processors, increased battery life, and higher resolution screens – we’ve had the subsequent benefit of lowering the cost to manufacture and sell these technologies. Cheaper and more accessible high-resolution screens have made VR a reality today. Fast, small and power efficient batteries have created both the IOT and the wearable industries.

Each time a Samsung and Apple continued to innovate, miniaturize and released mass quantities of these electronics – they’ve made it cheaper and easier for others to innovate as well.

Unfortunately, it’s thanks to the popularity of the smartphone that we now have in our hands the early seeds of the smartphones end.

But it’s about to end

By 2019, 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps – Gartner

The smartphone is responsible for birthing these new technologies, but these new technologies will one day displace the smartphone and reduce its importance. The smartphone market has been growing more stagnant these last few years. We’ve reached a point where the technology improvements are becoming more and more incremental and predictable. While I expect that the iPhone X will sell well (likely outselling Apples ability to manufacture them if the production delay rumors are true), I also don’t expect that there are as many die-hard technology fans such as myself staying up tonight to pre-order as there have been in previous releases.

To me, the apple watch series 3 is Apple declaring that they also recognize that the smartphone as we know it today is going to disappear. By putting a mobile data connection in the watch – we’ve taken our first step towards eventually replacing the phone. Will I still want to carry a bulky phone when I can call, text, email, listen to music, and run apps on a device that I naturally wear?

There will still be certain types of interactions that won’t work as well on a wearable such as reading large amounts of texts, viewing media or interfaces that require sorting through large amounts of data. Those will still require us to carry a mobile screen of some sort, but that doesn’t mean a phone. In fact, my prediction is that we’ll see the current phone evolve into a mobile viewing screen over the next several years. We may have a foldable screen technology that pairs to our watch to provide us with a larger view when we need it. Or better yet – we’ll finally have augmented reality glasses/lenses that can provide the necessary view that we need.

But until that day, I’ll still be staying up once a year to order the latest and greatest smartphone.

Posted by Eldon

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