Top Ten Big Changes Coming To Your Smartphone

The next big changes include not just what your device looks like but what it can interact with

Your digital life is about to change in ways you haven’t yet dreamed of. The next few years will bring about unprecedented and fundamental shifts to nearly everything we do online.   We’re entering a period of unheard of technological growth and it all centers around your smartphone.

As a primer note this interesting milestone that was reached last week:  Certain Google keyword searches were performed on as many mobile handsets as on desktop platforms in the U.S.  That’s a huge shift from the traditional laptop and desktop model and a specific indicator of how rapidly smartphones are outpacing traditional computing.   It also indicates the looming death of desktop computing, already considered a dinosaur by many.  In another example of this change, 20-somethings were asked a simple question:  “If your carrier was to change your plan and offer only voice or data plans, which would you choose?  Nearly all stated that they would choose to have a data device and forgo the ability to talk on a phone.  The shift from a telecom device to a data PC that fits in your pocket could not could not be more pronounced in these examples.                                                                                                    

The smartphone is becoming anything but a phone, changing in ways no one predicted.  In the next few years these changes will drastically alter how we search, shop, converse and connect. (  For consumers and developers alike, here are a few of the changes you should be keeping an eye on:



  • Data exchange: How your device connects and communicates will change drastically.  Currently, we’re challenged with sharing information between our various devices. Images that we capture with a camera or phone have to be manually transferred to a printer, laptop or database.  Media files and personal information that we download at home isn’t easily available on the go. But not for long.  Within 2-3 years smartphones will recognize the devices and other phones around them and will collect and distribute information accordingly.  Data will reside in the cloud to be available regardless of the device you’re using, essentially making your phone a digital briefcase.  It will allow you to access documents easily and display them on whatever monitor you’re near, and will re-create your last desktop complete with previous browsing tabs and video files.  And it gets better:  While you are out for a walk your data device will be searching for information that’s important to you.  It will collect and share the recipe of the day from that new restaurant you passed, music from the music store, and poetry that your neighbor is publishing. It will alert you to the latest showing at the theater and suggest plans for your next date.  This is where your device becomes truly interactive.



  • Social Media: Facebook is becoming the new testing platform for many smart phone applications and as this testing occurs the prospect of great opportunities will abound for the consumer.  Informed developers are utilizing social media to define their target market, test their application title and content, measure click-through and rate their icons and online appearance.  This may be transparent to the casual user but it does reflect the growing need to very specifically define applications for a given audience.  For smart phone users this presents early adopter opportunities, the ability to direct how and what software is created, and to be rewarded for testing or participating in a beta release.  Smart developers will also reward participants for downloading and using the application to help spread the word.  This is drastically different than the behind closed doors development that has traditionally taken place and demonstrates how the consumer will now be able to mandate the display and experience as well as define bottom up design improvements.


  • Speech Recognition: iPhone’s Siri application was partly responsible for mega sales of the iPhone 4S. But voice control and speech recognition is still in its infancy.  2011 saw the integration of voice control with automobiles and while both of these examples are still very early in their development, much bigger changes are coming.  With increases in processing speed and power,  future voice control releases will allow the application to be always on and listening for key words.  The technology will become completely hands free and will not just acknowledge commands but will be able to hold conversations with the user.  This will change the experience for Mobile Search taking us beyond information “at our finger tips” to informed decision making about everything we do.  Our decisions for where we go, what we eat, and how we connect with one another will be driven in part by these changes.


  • Digital Cash: Starbucks recently announced the ability to pay for your coffee via a mobile device.  “Mobile Wallets” essentially turn your phone or tablet into a cash register, processing debit and credit transactions rapidly without handling a credit card.  The announcement shines a light on the rapidly expanding mobile payments market worth billions of dollars.  Competitors like Google, PayPal and Facebook are going head to head against little known start ups like Square and Revel.  In the coming months this will be a game changer for many companies who don’t like to handle cash and it will ultimately impact everything you buy.  From a taxi ride to the airport, to that food truck you stop at for lunch or the smoothie you grab on your weekend run, the mobile frontier is leading the charge to eliminate cash.


  • Micro-Payments:  Micro-payments are financial transactions that involve a very small sum of money.  The idea of charging just a few cents for specific services has been around for years and represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity.  But the ability to reach to a wide enough U.S. audience to make the model lucrative has been a challenge. With the rise of social media and the always-connected smartphone this is about to change.  The purchase of goods and services through smart phone apps could become highly lucrative for many companies while offering unique opportunities for consumers.  Soon you’ll see every day opportunities to buy music, rent movies, purchase pay-for-play games and own small niche applications all through your phone.  Additionally, the ease with which micro-payments can be processed makes the opportunity available to anyone.  That garage band down the street may find serious money in charging .39 cents to hear their latest single. Or you might pay a buck to be the first to be notified about fantastic deals on that next trip to Hawaii.
  • In-Application Purchases:   Continuing with the “phone as an ATM” theme is the rise of new monetization opportunities for companies through In-Application purchases (paying for additional content or services within an already installed application).  This will continue to drastically change the way we shop and spend.  As subscription services lag, online news media may offer teaser stories but ask for a nominal charge of .39-.99 cents to view a whole report.  Other applications may be free to download but ask for an additional charge to access premium features.  This model is already popular in gaming but will spread numerous other verticals including finance, travel, and social media.  Companies will have to carefully craft their offering to gain traction but the opportunity for the end user could be terrific.
  • Battery life:  It wasn’t that long ago that mobile devices required you to recharge throughout the day in order to maintain battery life.  We all remember meetings that would start late while people clambered for the few outlets in the room.  However, with the increasing processing power of most phones, batteries have had to keep pace and they’ve done quite well.  The average battery life of most smart phones is currently around 7 hours of talk time.  But changes in application power usage, battery efficiency, alternate power sources (motion charging, solar charging cases), and wireless charging mean that we’ll grow even more dependent on our smart phones as they are able to run longer without a traditional charge.  Many of these changes will take place in the next 1-2 years.
  • Enterprise Apps: For business, mobility innovations will allow companies to move faster, become more nimble, and react quicker to customer requests.  Executives will be able to approve vendor invoices via their Oracle application, or authorize changes to a presentation in SalesForce all while in a taxi on the way to a client meeting.  Much more powerful, however, is that mobile applications will route and prioritize information and email based on your location and preference.  You’ll have the option of viewing only actionable, important email. This will fundamentally change the Inbox Hell so many of us deal with and allow relevant information to become immediately available.  Social Media will become a much bigger part of the enterprise as well, enabling companies to stay more attuned to employee concerns while allowing them to crowd-source within their own walls.  As a result, email will decline and many decisions will be much better informed.  Enterprise applications could be the next big boom for mobile developers.

  • Privacy: All of these changes make many people wonder about how privacy will change. In fact, to be effective applications will have to continue to gather information about where you go and what you see, hear and experience.  This is where a dramatic and fundamental shift takes place.  For baby boomers and many Gen X’rs privacy is a big concern.  However, for 20-somethings it’s just the opposite.  Most have no perception of a loss of privacy.  The changing attitude is to ask why wouldn’t you share all of your images, your location and experiences with everyone?  Social media is part of the fabric of their lives and these changes will be seen not as a violation but as a natural progression.  The truth here is that as the younger generation becomes our future business and technology leaders the changes to privacy are here to stay.  Those who adapt most quickly will have the advantage.


These innovations have far-reaching implications that extend beyond the technologies themselves. They will truly impact how we see and experience the world around us.  The challenge for developers is to engage users, let them help define how and what is created and then to properly market their application.  Consumers are heading towards a much more exciting, vibrant and connected experience that will leave us wondering whether we should even continue to call that thing in our pocket a phone.  The opportunities for all of us are tremendous.


Until next time,

Posted on by Crowe Mead in Leadership, Productivity, Uncategorized

Add a Comment