In the past few months some of the biggest technology firms in the world have all hosted their yearly mega-events during which their vision for the next one year was laid out. The first to hold its developer conference was Facebook when the F8 conference was held in late April. Microsoft was next with Microsoft Build and then came Google with its I/O conference. Apple was the last with its Worldwide Developers Conference. And while Amazon usually doesn’t hold events, the online retail giant launched two new smart speakers in the same period.
Later in fall, Apple will be releasing a smartphone that will mark ten years of the iPhone’s existence. During this time it is also expected that Google will unveil a new Pixel smartphone. Microsoft is also likely to hold a press conference on the Surface computer in late October.
All the events have pointed to one thing – that the next era of computing is just beginning. This means that while Google with the Android operating system and Apple with the iPhone may be the dominant players in the smartphone space currently, technologies such as augmented reality present an opportunity for other tech firms such as Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, who missed out, to make their mark.
With previous technological shifts, big opportunities have been created for those who see it before it has arrived. In the 1970s both Microsoft and Apple saw an opportunity that existed with personal computers, a fact which mainframe computer makers refused to acknowledge. Most recently Microsoft failed to see the potential that smartphones held and tried to play catch-up long after Apple and Google had taken over.
AR and VR
Currently virtual reality and augmented reality are undergoing growing pains but once this early phase passes, such technologies could end up becoming widely adopted in the future causing another technological shift, perhaps even spelling the death of the smartphone. This is because when it becomes possible for information to be projected onto the ears and eyes, there will be little need to carry mobile device around.
And while in some quarters it is still being referred to as a fad, an arms race has started to develop these augmented reality platforms. Snapchat and Facebook have built AR tools into the camera while Magic Leap, a startup backed by Google is developing an AR platform just as is Microsoft. All these are hoping that these AR platforms will kill the smartphone just like personal computers killed the mainframes.