Kari McMahon


Is Mobile Phone Innovation On Hold?

A thought-piece

I don’t know about you but I am quite happy with my phone.

In fact I haven’t upgraded my phone in a while. It’s an iPhone 5S but it meets the majority of my needs — I can browse the web effeciently, listen to music, use popular apps and send texts— all with my tiny hands.

I will inevitably need to replace my phone. It is on it’s last legs — it’s got a cracked screen and I have had it for several years. However when the time comes to get a new phone, I think I will be purchasing another 5S.

Years ago, it would be exciting to find out what a new phone could offer. There were so many features that the public desired — technology companies competed to fulfil our every desire. The announcement of new phones became a spectacle.

However mobile technology is now meeting the majority of our needs and desires. I rarely hear anyone comment on a feature or innovation they wish a technology companies would provide, you are more likely to hear gripes about the cost of upgrading to a new device.

This is unlike a few years ago when you would hear users enthusiastically discuss dreams of improved camera technology or 4G streaming services and they would practically sell their soul to get that latest feature.

Sure — there a few things that could be better with my current phone. I would like an improved camera and more storage for my music and pictures. But I also have an DSLR and Apple Music account, so these improvements are also being fulfilled by existing services.

New generation mobile phone contracts cost around £30-£40. If you are only interested in a small improvement in the phone, for example the camera. How long can you justify paying a significantly high cost for an improvement which you can actually fulfil with another service you own ? Especially when you can use every other feature in the exact same manner on a second or third generation version of the device.

Of course there will always be people who want to be on the cutting edge of technology and will buy the latest phone. However it will be interesting to observe if there is a decline in mobile phone adoption in the coming years. I still need to catch up with the WWDC Apple Event however after a brief look at twitter it seems many people are of the opinion that cost is now outweighing the benefit. A shift in tone in comparison to a few years ago.

It seems as though mobile phones have reached the cash cow state. No doubt the big tech companies will continue to milk the cash cows for all they are worth.

However I wonder if it is time to put the announcement events and significant price hikes to rest until wider technological innovations or challengers disrupt the industry.

It’s no longer exciting to follow.

It feels like mobile phone innovation has been on hold for a while. It will be interesting to watch whether new generation mobile phone adoption rates will reflect this thought.

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