In 2007 the cell phone game was reimagined, when Apple came out with the iPhone. Smartphones became a thing, and now they’re so commonplace I don’t think of them as smartphones, they’re just phones.
The cell phone industry at the time was shaken up, and within a few years RAZRs and Sidekicks were tossed aside for iPhones and Galaxies. Phones were getting more expensive, but their capabilities are easily worth it!
So, as phones get better (and more expensive, see: X, iPhone) why is the market slowing down?
Can’t Reinvent the Wheel
It took a little while for the design of a modern-day phone to be fully realized. But once we hit about 2011, 2012, the keyboard was traded out for touchscreens, and flip phones went out of style. Extra importance was placed on the camera, because things like Instagram, Facebook, and more recently Snapchat have become integral parts of our lives – for the moment at least.
However, now that the “basic necessities” of a phone are clear, it’s pretty tough to improve on it directly. You can only make the camera “better” so many times without having improvement be negligible. Wireless charging is cool, but it’s really not that much more convenient than using a plug.
So why would someone buy something new (and expensive) that provides minimal improvement to their life, while their current phone gets the job done just fine?
Apple acknowledged that it would be hard to continue one-upping itself, so they looked to broaden their range of provided goods. Enter: The Apple Watch.
To be fair, Fitbit was on the “smartwatch” scene first, but they were focused almost entirely on fitness aspects. The sentiment still applies though, because it was a way to improve on how users interact with their phones, without actually improving the phones themselves.
Expensive Phones = Longer Life Cycle
The more money people spend on something, the more use they want to get out of it. If you buy a phone for a couple hundred bucks, replacing it after a year might feel a little quick, but it’s a real possibility. If you buy it for $1000 though, that phone better get me through the next several years and work perfectly the whole time.
Especially when there are shops like us to help people keep their phones (and computers) working longer.
Apple, and other tech companies, have fought against allowing 3rd party repairs, and of course they were caught worsening the performance of older phones. These are both meant to speed up the replacement process and encourage consumers to get new phones – but it looks like people just aren’t having it.
You wouldn’t buy a brand-new computer and use it for a year or two and get a new one – maybe it’s time we start viewing our phones the same way.
Profits are still good
This article isn’t meant to say that the end is coming for smartphone innovation. The iPhone X’s facial recognition, while not perfectly executed, is definitely cool. And plenty of people bought the iPhone X and love it.
And besides, even though Apple didn’t sell as many iPhone Xs as they were hoping to, they still made a lot of money because of the high margins. The point is, until there is another breakthrough technology wise, it’s tough to imagine phones getting so much better that I’ll discard my perfectly-good phone for a new one.