In case you missed it, you can catch the first part of this article here.
So what’s left to differentiate Smartphones going forward?
Battery life is going to be one huge battlefield among OEMs in the near future; it is the one feature that really hasn’t improved as fast as every other thing about smartphones have, in fact, it has deteriorated. It is the first reason I’m still stuck on the Z30 today, After getting used to the concept of charging your phone once a day, it is really hard to go back to having a charger in your pocket at all times. For perspective, the first BlackBerry devices could go a month on one AA battery!
The battle for that space has already started, if you paid attention at the launches of both the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, or if you have been following any of their marketing campaigns, you will realise that both have some form of battery ultra-saving mode that once turned on will boost your battery life by a couple of hours (or days, depending on what level the battery is on).
I can bet Apple will make some interesting announcements that centre around the battery life of the next flagship iPhone. The first OEM that figures out batteries on smartphones will score huge points.
Services and content
Another huge frontier that will differentiate smartphones in the near future will be what services and content they offer through the device. Apple foresaw this ages ago and invested in content offerings early (iTunes, Appstore, iBooks, etc). The lure of content it two-fold; first it’s so darn convenient to acquire content on your smartphone (or any other smart device) and secondly, it locks you in to the ecosystem, because in most cases, you can not carry the your purchased content across platforms.
Other OEMs have gotten in on the content game as well, and OEMs like Samsung asides Google store have their own stores and hubs with content for sale.
It’s not just about content though, services too that add value to the purchase will be huge. This is one of the biggest mistakes BlackBerry made (if you ask me), they started as a service company building hardware to leverage on the service, then tried to chase pure hardware companies (who were eyeing content and services) and now it’s stuck in the middle without being dominant on any side.
If BlackBerry 10 had launched with full BIS support (complete with data compression), as an option on every carrier, The BlackBerry story as it is today, may have been different.
Integration to everyday life
The smartphone is becoming the cornerstone of your day-to-day life. Almost everything you do today revolves around the smartphone as smartphones continue to evolve, they will be further embedded into your everyday life. Here’s one quick example. While watching the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last year, when they highlighted the remote control feature as part of the Watch ON app, I screamed gimmick in my head. Fast forward a year and now I don’t have batteries in any of my remotes and I haven’t had battery in them for a while. The S4 has replaced my remotes. Watch On, has also evolved from being a TV controller, to Tv guide + controller for the whole entertainment system (DSTV decoder, Strong decoder, Home entertainment system) and even the Air Conditioner!
Apple’s picked up on this as well, and with iOS 8 and Yosemite, there is a lot of integration coming, including what it’s calling Home Kit (which basically is a smarthome standard that can be controlled from your iPhone and the new interactions between iPhones (running iOS 8) and Macs (running Yosemite) including Hand Off, Air Drop and the ability to interact with the phone (place and answer calls) from the Mac.
Beyond the home, these OSes will interact with your car as well both iOS and BlackBerry are pursuing interests in the automotive industry right now as well, then there is the health sector which Samsung forayed in first with S-Health. Apple has also announced its own Health Kit and BlackBerry is also said to be building special health specific devices that pair with medical equipment already in use in today’s hospitals which run on its QNX platform. With time your smartphone will delve into more and more spheres of our lives.
At some point soon, your smartphone decisions will be skewed by decisions like what smartphone works best with your current house, or car or office and not by how many pixels the rear camera has, or how many cores the chip inside is packing.
When that time comes, it’ll get interesting again, not for the hardware itself, but for how well integrated it is with the rest of the world around you. Till then, snoozefest.