Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

After a long winning streak, smartphones are old news

Every day ROB Insight delivers exclusive analysis on breaking business news and market-moving events. It is available only to subscribers of Globe Unlimited.

The next technology killer app is, almost by definition, impossible to predict so there's no way to tell if the excitement over a potential bendable glass iWatch device is justified. One thing, however, is clear – the novelty value of smartphones is over and investors should look elsewhere for innovation.

The release of the Blackberry Quark models in 2003 was a watershed event. The combination of mobile phone and fast e-mail in one device elicited a wondrous shock for first-time users. Reactions to the stunning multi-touch navigation and slick functionality of the first iPhone were similarly in the "I can't believe this" vein.

Story continues below advertisement

Now, while smartphone development continues, the thrill of waiting to see what every product cycle would bring is a distant memory. Each new device is only a marginal improvement over the previous model and the long lineups to buy a new iPhone are getting shorter and shorter. Like PCs, a smartphone is a smartphone, more or less, and buying a new one is about as exciting as shopping for a new hammer at Home Depot.

The next technology revolution might not be Google's freaky head-up display eyeglasses or the iWatch but it will have the same "wow!" effect of the Quark a decade ago. For investors, growth will continue to be found on existing platforms, but the home runs will be found elsewhere.

Scott Barlow is a contributor to ROB Insight, the business commentary service available to Globe Unlimited subscribers. Click here for more of his Insights, and follow Scott on Twitter at @SBarlow_ROB.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.