Report: Apple will be a ‘follower’ in the ‘post-smartphone’ era

The mobile industry is on the cusp of an important phase of development, as enhanced technologies and innovative user interfaces and experiences seek to breathe new life into the stagnant market.

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In this “post-smartphone” era, the market is constantly forced to provide users with more immersive touch-less experiences. New interfaces will need to be developed where voice, artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality, augmented reality and gesture experiences can all converge.

In its latest report, which evaluates ten major companies from across the mobile ecosystem, analyst firm ABI Research said that as this next wave of innovation approaches, Google and Amazon will emerge as the market’s “leaders” due to continued growth in their apparent strengths.

Apple will lag due to innovation complacency, ABI Research said.

An assessment was made of patent portfolios, research and development spend, acquisitions and contributions to standards bodies and open source communities to provide comparative evaluation and benchmarking for 10 major ecosystem companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung — to see which are best placed to take full advantage of this future paradigm.

Based on the analysis included in the report, and the likely drive to the next phase of development in the smartphone ecosystem, ABI Research has determined that Google and Amazon will lead and drive innovation around smartphones and related ecosystems over the next five to six years.

“This next wave of innovation in the smart device ecosystem will be led by Google and Amazon, as their apparent strength in major growth sectors, notably computer science, allows for a more flexible approach to next-generation user experiences that are essential for creating immersive experiences and brand-new ways of human-to-machine interactions,” said David McQueen, research director at ABI Research.

“Without having the heavy burden of legacy systems and hardware, these Web-scale companies are in a good position to lead the market into the post-smartphone era.”

The research classified established OEMs like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Huawei as “followers/advocates”, as they were exhibiting some signs of complacency in the sector and are not currently as well set up to drive future innovation in the market.

These players are also burdened with legacy establishments in the smartphone business, which give them little flexibility to innovate outside the box. Those in this classification, however, should not be dismissed so easily from leadership contention in the future, as they currently have a major influence on the market, mainly through brand strength and market share.

“The “follower/advocates” companies often follow an evolutionary approach to innovation, partly to protect their existing investment, as they fear disrupting their current market leadership, and partly because they find it harder to embrace new and more disruptive approaches to technology,” observed McQueen.

In this “post-smartphone” era of new ecosystems and experiences, there will be a requirement for significant investment in the underpinning technologies and technical expertise as well as the creation of “intelligent phones” that are able to effectively leverage these forthcoming technologies.

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