In the 10 years since Apple dropped the first iPhone, smartphones have become the most important cultural artefact of the last decade. Sales of the devices have saturated the global market to the point that everyone who wants one, has one.
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This has led many analysts to predict the demise of the smartphone as other technologies evolve to supersede it. However, others maintain that these handheld devices represent the evolutionary endpoint of a certain type of design and will endure for years to come. Arguments for both sides hold water, but if one looks at the shift in the last 10 years from PC to smartphone, it poses the question: What comes next?
Does the revolution kill its own children?
Technology, by its very nature, is transient. As the needs of people shift and progress, so does the technology. How we communicate and perform daily tasks is set to change and with it the method of facilitation. The death knell for smartphones? There is a very real chance that smartphones will become a thing of the past in the next five to 10 years. With the inordinate amount of processing power and pervasiveness, smartphones have enjoyed the monopoly as a constant digital companion. However, developers are actively looking for more solutions that integrate digital and physical life and smartphones cannot provide a logical interface for this next wave of technology.
Wearables are not yet the better smartphones
In particular, the commercial adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) poses a particular problem for these devices. AI has already made serious inroads with various technologies. Virtual assistants that work on smartphones, like iPhone’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby are already negating the need to be in physical contact with your device. Wearables have increased in popularity recently and in certain applications, such as the health and fitness realm, have become mainstream. While satisfying the needs for specific applications, it is unlikely that they are set to become our primary digital connection. This is attributed to its screen size and processing power capacity.