May 13, 2016

    Hello, what can be next big thing after cellphone?


    THE smartphone revolutionised how people live and work but the technology world is now struggling to see what comes next.

    As smartphone sales have peaked in most major markets, Apple, Samsung and others are being forced to rethink their business models.

    The trend in smartphones appears to follow similar peaks in tablet sales and personal computers, said Bob O'Donnell, chief analyst at Techanalysis Research.

    "We are clearly entering a new era where growth of traditional devices has ended and you have to think differently."

    It's not clear what will be the "next big thing" in technology or even if there will be one, and that is troubling for an industry that has been living off growth from smartphones and their ecosystems of Android and Apple iOS applications.

    John Curran, managing director of Accenture's communications, media and technology group, said, in a maturing smartphone market, the consumers are not hesitating about new purchases.

    "Consumers are basically satisfied with their current devices," he noted.

    Mr Curran said the "Internet of Things" appears to be a promising market but that no single device has proved compelling so far.

    "We're seeing a broad range of devices, smartwatches, home automation, drones and the like," he added. "But these are not taking off (because) people don't see the personal value in their lives yet."

    An Accenture survey released in January found that only a relatively small number of consumers expressed interest in new Internet of Things devices, such as smartwatches or drones - expressing concerns over cost, security and complexity of use.

    Ramon Llamas, analyst at research firm IDC, said consumers want to see how all their new gadgets and services can be inter-connected.

    "The smartphone will still have a privileged place in our lives but it needs to connect to all our other devices.

    "You want your smartphone to talk to your home security system and your wearable device," he added.

    Global smartphone sales in the first quarter showed their slowest growth on record of 0.2 per cent, according to IDC.

    A separate report by Juniper Research was even more gloomy, saying global sales fell nearly 6 per cent.

    The market for devices such as smartwatches, fitness bands and smart home technology is growing but in a more disjointed fashion, with competing operating systems that can often confuse consumers.

    With no single important device dominating, Mr O'Donnell said the future tech landscape will see players emerge that can combine hardware, software, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

    Intel, the company known for PC chips and failing to recognise the shift to mobile devices, last month unveiled a major restructuring, with a view to build on the Internet of Things.

    "The biggest opportunity in the Internet of Things is that it encompasses just about everything in our lives today," said Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich in a blog post.

    "From our shoes and clothes to our homes and cars - the Internet of Things is transforming everything and every experience."