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2013, the year of the phone: again?

So, iPhone 5 is not getting the same share of new cistomer accounts that iPhone 4s did – but 47.8 million iPhones is a healthy number. And with a gross margin of 38% Apple continues to be amongst the best of all value stocks and still has potential growth. But iPhone will change. It’s evolving, slower than some some, including myself, would like, but it’s changing. I think it’s ireffutable that we will see a lower priced iPhone this year. We’ll see see Lenovo gaining market share outside of China. We’ll see a new Samsung phone. And we’ll see the pack starting to close perhaps – Nokia’s new Lumia and Motorola’s RAZR-i show that these guys are looking seriously at how good their products have to be to compete. And of course tomorrow we’ll see Blackberry 10. The make or break phone for RIM – that will probably be better than we expected.

Now that BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) is being taken seriously by IT departments globally, it seems reasonable to assume that new entrants or revised versions of phones will have to have significant consumer appeal because they are likely to be used for work and personally. And the personal use is changing rapidly as more content becomes available and accessible on fatser cellular networks. And it’s this change in use that is shaping the design of these new phones. In the old days, manufactureres did everything they could to make mobile phones smaller. In the last couple of years were happy to have a tablet as a third device – laptop, phone and a tablet – but the opportunity for the converged mobile phone and tablet has become too attractive to ignore for. I remember Guy Kawasaki writing in MacWorld twenty years ago that a PDA (read tablet for this old term), could only succeed if it were a phone as well. It’s worked out that way. The phablet is born.

Samsung’s Note is evidence that the large format mobile phone can work – and work well. iPhone 5, Motorola RAZR-i and Nokia’s new Lumia are all really good phones on different operating systems – but even despite their current appeal, even they will get bigger. I am convinced that by 2015 we will be using slim, light, perhaps even flexible phones with a screen size of at least five inches. Great for catching up with a missed TV episode, good for typing mails and maybe even opening one of those spreadhseets that looks just ridiculous on most current smartphones. Great for many things. But practiacl? Can you pop a 5 or 6 inch screen phone in your top pocket as an after thought as you wander off to teh restaurant while on holiday? This is where things get nteresting. The emergence of the phone companion is coming. It’s likely that 3rd party brands will find ithard to prosper if Apple, Samsung and Google release their own, ‘wearable phone companions’. A Bluetooth headset will give you the audio – and a wearable device, like a watch or fob, brings you features like text messages, caller id and maybe the added benefit of some mHealth functionality, which you can of course gleefully review on your phone app.. This wearable, companion is a way the large-format phone can succeed – but, and this was where we started – it’s a third device, again.

Nokia Music for €3.99 in Europe “We spend a lot of time listening to how people use the service and have even managed to half the amount of skips per songs played, which is a combination of our systems and musicologists understanding and shaping Nokia Music around the users. “Nokia Music is great for discovering new music, and we’ve found that there’s a core of users that want even more of it. This is how Nokia Music+ came about. By introducing features like infinite skips and unlimited downloads, we’re opening the doors for unlimited music discovery at only €3.99 per month.

External links & references

  1. The Guardian: Mobile Technology
  2. Mobile World Congress 2013
  3. Curran & Lampe : Future Smartphone

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Andy O'Donoghue talks about technology, some say, too much.

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