What Could 'Peak Smartphone' mean for Developers?

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Following reports the past week could be sobering news for those of us involved in the mobile industry.

With slowing sales across the board for hardware manufacturers it seems the public’s constant desire to upgrade to the latest and greatest has lost momentum. There could be many reasons behind this slowdown, industry pundits are pointing a finger square at manufacturers themselves for doing too good a job. This is a strange statement to make, but with few ground breaking developments in the past years and most mobile devices now the best they have ever been, consumers lack an incentive to buy new releases.

The computer industry has been experiencing the same slowdown for the best part of a decade and I think few thought that the same would happen to the mobile device industry so quickly.

These statements aside, few of you are hardware developers, so wont directly be affected but I wonder if there will be any affect to software developers? Computer sales may have slowed, but developing software for platforms has never been so lucrative. In fact the maturing of computer hardware offerings has allowed for an amazing period of software innovation. Perhaps the same will start happening for mobile platforms, and as developers we can focus less on supporting the latest hardware, and more on making good applications.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions.

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I think the problem is they have run out of new “features” to add - well, ones we care about anyway. iPhones 3d display for instance. I can’t think of anyone that was asking for this feature. What we wanted was better battery life more than anything else. Instead they keep adding power consuming features. To be fair consumers always want new must have features to motivate an upgrade and vendors do a fair job of doing that - but honestly can you think of anything that you really really want them to add to your iPhone 6s?

It’s perhaps bit like PC’s where hardware innovations mainly came from speed bumps or miniaturisation. Software is where most of the innovation has come from in recent years in PC/Mac’s. Perhaps we’re entering a phase where software (not from Apple) is where the innovation will come from.

Apple/Samsung et al will then just need to keep improving performance and battery life and refining form factor over time. I’m expecting any big leaps or must have innovations any time soon.

I’m looking for:

  • More battery life (the iPhone 6s is no better than my previous 5s in my experience).
  • Better connections to networks
  • More robust cases (that can take a few drops)

The one really big innovation that I’m waiting for (and expecting) is that the phone become the primary computer for most people and can drive a big screen and full sized keyboard.

Microsoft are working on it and I’ve been waiting for years for the tech to catch up with the concept. But I don’t see any reason now why someone can’t put this together. Probably not Apple as it would cannibalise their Mac/ipad/iphone ecosystem too much. I’m personally tiring of having to cary an iPad, iPhone and Macbook when I travel. A single device with swappable batteries that could also power big screens at destination and a keyboard should be possible and a much easier and cheaper buying decision for consumers. Microsoft will do it but I fret over their still bloated os. Not sure where Google is on this.

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