Reading the S-Curves
Goodbye, Smartphones. Hello, Goggles.
Benedict Evans is among the very best of our market watchers. Here, with one chart and two paragraphs charts the transition from today’s mobile world, to the coming augmented reality world. (I’m still expecting Amazon Eyes by Christmas, connected AR goggles with Alexa-based UX, and telephony — and Fire TV — built in.)
Benedict Evans, The end of smartphone innovation
There’s a paradox here, perhaps: slowing innovation in the iPhone and in Android doesn’t mean weakness (“Apple doomed!” “Android falling behind!”) but strength: it reflects the fact that we are in a phase in which they’re unassailable. The fact that almost all of the white space has been filled in — the big problems solved — also means that we have left the part of the S Curve in which a new idea or execution could overturn the incumbent. They’re too feature-rich and, of course, have too much scale in units and ecosystem.
Of course, that is only true until the next S curve comes along and resets the score, just as the iPhone did to both Microsoft and Nokia. The trend this year is to say that this new S-Curve will be voice (I’m skeptical) or just AI in general (yes, but I’m not sure it changes the dynamics in phones). AI certainly is the new S-Curve in the tech industry, but for actual devices you carry around with you, I increasingly think that augmented reality is the next fundamental platform shift. AR, in the sense not of waving your phone at something but of glasses that can place objects into the world around you, can probably be the new universal interface, replacing multitouch just as multitouch is replacing the windows/mouse/keyboard model.
But Ben doesn’t handicap: he’s not picking winners, like I am doing with Amazon.
By the way, I read a rumor that Echo will soon support intercom use, so I’ll be able to talk throughout the house since we have three units now. And VoIP telephony to Echo is in the works, too. That’s how I see Amazon sneaking into telephones: not with the pointless effort to build a smartphone (witness the Amazon Fire Phone flame out), but riding on the experience of Kindle (whispernet), Fire TV, and Echo. With Google Glass, it looked like Google might be the first with successful AR goggles, but now I’m betting on Amazon. Is Apple even working in this area?