The end of the smartphone – Google’s idea

By February 18, 2011 9 Comments

This morning I went to a breakfast briefing given by corporate finance and research house GP Bullhound to share their ten predictions for 2011.

Their predictions are:

  1. Google’s Android outdistancing Apple’s iOS
  2. Mobile payments to surge in 2011
  3. Social shopping, dating and gambling thrive on mobile
  4. Augmented reality apps take off
  5. Mobile and smart grid applications open the digital home
  6. Privacy becomes a top priority for social network users
  7. Thin film makes a come back
  8. Short messaging format will gain wider support and momentum
  9. Gaming moves to the cloud
  10. A new generation of consumer business intelligence and data analytics apps will emerge

Overall I think this is a pretty good list (and it was very amusingly presented by Per Roman and his colleagues) – as you’d expect, I agree with some of them more than others.  I remain unconvinced that people really care enough about privacy for it to become a ‘top priority’, but I am with GP Bullhound on the business intelligence/analytics opportunity and particularly on the strength of Android – something I have now written about on three days out of five this week.

Per was in Barcelona this week for Mobile World Congress and he met with the Google Android folks.  Google’s belief is that within a couple of years all mobile phones will be smartphones – with touchscreens, good browsers, multi-media capability etc.  Free Android software and cheaper hardware will mean that nobody needs to make do with a low end feature phone anymore, at which point we should simply call them ‘phones’ because everyone has one and the prefix ‘smart’ is redundant.  Hence the end of the smartphone.

The general belief seems to be that in this scenario Apple will hold onto the top end of the market and will be just fine.  I’m not so sure about that.  Developers will start to produce their Android apps first and their iOS apps second given the greater number of potential customers on Android causing early adopters to switch.  Additionally the high end Android phones will come to match the iPhone over time, buoyed by structural advantage of a free operating system.

The news today that Apple is considering making a cheaper phone suggests they see this risk.

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