The Mobile Innovation Cycle is Over

15 Nov, 2013

True innovation in the mobile space has passed.

On June 29, 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone to the world. It wasn’t the first smartphone—not by a long shot—but it was the first to really nail the experience. While the technology that powers mobile computing is improving exponentially, every smartphone (even every tablet) that follows the iPhone is a shade of what Steve Jobs unveiled over six years ago.

Similarly, gasoline powered automobiles have been around since the late 1800s. Compare a car made in the early 20 century to automobiles that are made today, and you’ll see several similarities: 4 wheels, seats, windshield, a steering wheel, gear shift, etc. While the car has evolved for several decades, the original innovation of a personal transportation machine (with no animals required) has remained fairly stable.

a late 19th Century automobile

Today there is a great deal of talk about innovation in the mobile computing space, but take a look at what smartphones are competing on: size, power, efficiency, form factor, durability, color, etc. These are the exact same areas where cars have been and will continue to compete for decades.

While mobile has revolutionized how people interact with computers and each other, the true market shifting innovation in this space has passed. Even wearbles (smart watches, Google Glass) are either just an extension or a new form factor of the mobile computer.

Like the auto industry, smartphones, their software and peripherals will continue to be a formidable industry for years to come, but I’m eager to see where and when the next truly transformative innovation will occur. My money is on the health/longevity space or robotics.

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