Over the past five years, the technology found under the hood of the world’s greatest smartphones has been evolving at a lightning fast pace as developers fill out television screens with taglines like, “The Next Big Thing is Already Here,” or “The Smartphone Beta Test is Over!” In fact, high tech cellular devices have represented the fastest growing global commodity for four years straight and secondary markets (apps, accessories, used smartphones, etc.) have exploded as well.
At the same time, however, there has not been a major challenger to our top smartphones released for quite some time now. It almost makes us wonder; are the days of fast, full-featured smartphones already coming to an end? Read on to find out-
Corporate Profits Are Receding from Weak Sales
Despite a strong global market, profits from Apple, Nokia, Samsung and dozens of other manufacturers are missing their mark going into the third quarter of 2013. Even though the overall US economy is still on shaky ground, this is one market that has remained recession-proof even during the most stagnant moments of the past decade. It makes little sense for sales to suddenly drop unless the market simply is not delivering those must-have upgrades anymore.
Analysts have been quick to speculate that the slowing of the market is exactly that; consumers are awaiting releases of the latest iPhone and Samsung. That doesn’t explain the sudden appearance of the Galaxy S4 Mini or the iPhone 5 Mini though; why would the two most dominant names in wireless suddenly decide to release smaller, stripped-down versions of their most popular sellers?
Overseas Trends Have Changed the Market
We literally have to travel halfway around the globe to answer that previous question because the emerging smartphone markets are no longer found on American shorelines. Instead, developers are aggressively pursuing new markets in Asia, South America and Europe as the first waves of cellular broadband are tied into each country’s respective infrastructures. Billions in potential profits are absolutely up for grabs but unlike in the US, it’s not simply a two-horse race overseas.
Manufacturers like Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo are steadily gaining market-share with releases of smaller, budget-friendly smartphones that have less overall computing power than the original iPhone from 2004. While this trend wouldn’t seem to have anything to do with the US market at a glance, it will actually have quite an impactful say in how manufacturers proceed in the coming years.
Demand Ultimately Determines Technology
While the era of sleek, large-screen smartphones has not technically come to an end quite yet, their days are limited until the rest of the world embraces them. This doesn’t mean that we can’t expect even faster cellular devices at this fall’s tech conferences; it simply points to a shrinking market that does not warrant excess competition. For some of us, that’s great news, because we should begin to see a number of price points and a much larger variety of smartphones available. The true die-hard tech seekers are not going to be happy though because “The Next Big Thing” will have to carry a price tag that’s normally reserved for mid-range laptops.
Of course, as mobile broadband continues to flourish in more areas at home and abroad, the demand for game-changing smartphones will eventually return with a vengeance. For now though, all we can do is sit back and wait until consumer demand catches back up with technology.