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With 2017 the tenth Anniversary of Apple’s game-changing iPhone and CES this week, MWWPR brought together smartphone technology and marketing experts for an MWW Talks discussion about the future of the smartphone.

Our influencer panelists included Kim Armiger – Business Director at Fetch, Arjun Kharpal – Technology Correspondent at CNBC, Oliver Smith – Senior Reporter at The Memo and Daniel Gleeson – Senior Analyst, Consumer Technology at Ovum.  The panel was moderated by MWWPR UK Senior Director Ked Mather.

SMARTPHONES – BOOM OR BUST?

The panel agreed that smartphone technology has reached a plateau resulting in sales remaining at a steady level. For the first time, mobile internet usage has overtaken desktop usage which means greater accessibility for more people in a truly connected world.  This is in line with IDC’s Forecast that growth will remain positive but has slowed down in the last year.

While the market has slowed down in terms of sales –there are still an estimated 1.4 billion phones shipping this year. Emerging markets like India and Africa are increasingly using smartphones. Apple and Samsung have a chunk of the market but Chinese players are rising quickly.

The smartphone boom may be over, but we are just getting started in terms of innovation.

1. Innovation – what will drive mass adoption of AR, VR and AI?

The smartphone will become the foundation for new technologies.  However, the panel indicated a big leap for mass market VR usage. Content innovation, not just technology, will be the driver for VR adoption. Entertainment providers such as Netflix and Sky have a large part to play in driving consumer adoption of new technologies.

As of now, there is no killer content or game that is driving mass adoption of AR or VR. Hopefully Apple will get involved in VR technology to counter the proliferation of cheap VR headsets such as Google Cardboard or those that are being produced in China, and offering a subpar VR experience.

2. CES: what can we expect?

In its 50th year, CES 2017 will be the technology industry’s biggest showcase.  Many new developments will surface from wearables to self-driving cars.  A few trends to look out for include:

  • Using data to improve the consumer experience (watch for a panel with Fetch’s EVP and Uber).
  • Changes in how consumers interact with their phones through voice searches such as Alexa and Echo, as well as the rise of chatbots, will dominate noise at the show.
  • Technological developments from car makers will also take center stage, as the panel discussed that cars are the next computing environment and car makers will take advantage of this opportunity.
  • There will be a push into fashion by technology companies and a push into technology by fashion companies. The lines between technology and fashion are beginning to blur, which could help bridge the gap for mass adoption of wearables.

3. In 10 years, will we still have smartphones?

The panel believes smartphones will be crucial for at least another 5 years, but there will be a shift towards voice assistants, smart watches and other types of wearables. There could be an evolution where smartphones filter away and technology comes into a head mounted device, but this could take longer than 10 years.  The size and shapes of screens will likely change, but we will stick to the current format of productivity screen, entertainment screen and personal screen.

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