Mobile Innovation

Mobile Device Innovation: More Is Still to Come

mobile-device-innovation2It’s bizarre, isn’t it? Tablets and smartphones haven’t even been around for a decade yet, and countless tech analysts are already ready to declare that mobile devices are running out of places to go. There is, of course, a reason for the assumption: mobile device innovation in smartphones and tablets has slowed down markedly in the past few years, with the idea mill at Apple churning out fewer industry-defining features with each consecutive iPhone or iPad, and with many other mobile developers simply copycatting one another in a never-ending parade of the same basic ideas and design principles. If the age of rapid innovation is over, then it’s only a matter of time before consumers get bored with the novelty of the smartphone, right?

The Appeal of Mobile

Well, not necessarily. First of all, the appeal behind mobile devices cannot fairly be boiled down to “novelty.” The way these devices have taken the power and functionality of computers and imbued them with new levels of portability and convenience has changed lives for the better in many ways, from making professionals more efficient in their jobs to giving students a better way to distract themselves during dull lectures. In both cases – and many others like them – mobile has brought about a paradigm shift whose appeal isn’t just going to fade away overnight.

The Current State of Innovation

The other misconception is that, just because Apple isn’t changing the game with every new product anymore, the age of mobile innovation is coming to a close. Sure, the changes between different iPhone models nowadays may not be as exciting as they once were, but there’s something to be said for fitting higher security standards into a phone (as Apple did with the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S), or for packing a higher power processor chip into the confines of a smartphone’s compact shape (also an iPhone 5S addition). And Apple isn’t the only mobile company making innovative strides, either: with the Galaxy S5, Samsung made a phone that is, according to advertisements, almost completely waterproof.

These recent updates prove that modern innovation in the mobile sphere is more or less situated around two main motivators: making phones safer and more secure, and making them more powerful. In all likelihood, the future in mobile innovation won’t have that much to do with function, since most smart mobile devices can already do just about everything under the sun anyway. In other words, today’s version of mobile innovation isn’t going to be the same as yesterday’s, which was largely about making devices more capable; rather, it’s going to be about making devices more powerful and robust in everything they do.

The End of the Notebook PC?

In writing about the hopes for future mobile innovation (specifically in regards to tablets), Time columnist Ben Bajarin questioned the widely held belief that, of the modern triumvirate of devices (smartphone, tablet, and laptop), the tablet is the most disposable. Rather than accept tablets as a temporary fad, Bajarin talked about how his tablet was more powerful than his smartphone, but more convenient than his PC, and how that fact made it the most essential of the three gadgets.

Bajarin’s conversation begs the question: as mobile technology becomes more powerful, could the vulnerable device in the standard trio actually be the PC? The convenience of mobile has already cut down on the time people spend on their desktop or laptop computers. And with more power, there’s no reason that smartphones and especially tablets couldn’t continue to absorb that market. Could modern innovation trends toward higher levels of security and power be grooming mobile platforms to usurp the place of PCs in tech culture? Tell us what you think in the replies.