Although CES is still going on this week, the product announcements are more or less done. And from what I can tell, mobile hardware has reached a state of maturation.
Let’s see, six inch phones, 1080p devices, and processors with 72 GPU cores were announced. These features are beginning to mean little to the advanced user, let alone the novice one. Sure there were some interesting announcements around flexible and wearable devices (see video below), but these are still experiments or demonstration vehicles that won’t be hitting the market anytime soon.
The innovation in mobile for the foreseeable future is going to come from the software. People don’t need bigger devices or better displays (although I could use a device with better battery life). People need devices that adapt to the ways they use them, or what I like to call context-aware devices.
Give me a phone that understands when I’m in a store and alerts me to content appropriate to my location, that knows when I’m on vacation and suggests things to do, or that updates navigation based on real-time traffic data. The building blocks for some of these features exist, but things such as Google Now and Siri still have a ways to go.
Computing has always been a tug of war between hardware and software. First the hardware outpaces the software, then the software jumps ahead of the hardware, then the hardware leapfrogs the software, then software catches up, and so on until a paradigm shift such as desktop to mobile computing occurs. At which time the whole cycle starts over again.
So don’t expect to be blown away by any new mobile phones this year. It’s time for the software to catch up and start utilizing the available hardware to really improve our mobile experience.