Just over five years ago, I made the argument that the iPhone (and its smartphone cousins) were killing the camera business. I occasionally update the data that shows the widening gap. With 2020 in the rearview mirror and Apple having just reported its quarterly earnings (over $111 billion in iPhone sales alone), I thought it … Continue reading iPhone vs Camera: No Contest
Chetan Sharma, a very influential mobile industry analyst every year polls the industry insiders including leaders of some of the biggest and most important networking and telecom companies. He seeks their opinions on the year that was, and what to expect in the year to come. “Over the course of the decade, the number of … Continue reading Apple & Steve Jobs defined mobile in the 2010s
We can be a bit hard to please. We all want our devices to do more and more while consuming less power and taking up less space. And of course, they should look beautiful. But how often do we stop to think about how these incredible machines get built? The unsung heroes of these devices … Continue reading Breakthrough will help keep making smaller, smarter phones
All that IPO optimism—in addition to ongoing Facebook shenanigans—keep us a wee bit distracted from the dark clouds that are gathering on the horizon. Earlier this week, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported that the “worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $32.9 billion for the month of February 2019, a decrease of 7.3 percent from the January … Continue reading Chips Don’t Lie
Over the past few weeks, the world has been talking about folding smartphones. Bigger screens, thicker devices, and $2,000 price tags have not deterred the excitement around these new devices. There are some skeptics, but they are largely drowned out by enthusiasm like that found in The Verge, which already wonders if we will someday “talk of single-sided smartphones in the same nostalgic way we now speak of devices with external antennas, monochrome screens, and fixed-focus lenses.”
As it happens, nostalgia is exactly what I felt when I saw this new generation of smartphones. I was reminded of the first folding device that got me excited about mobile computing: the Blackberry Pager with a full chiclet keyboard and flip-out screen. Then there was Windows CE-powered HP Jornada, which I also loved.
And who could forget the scene in the 1997 thriller, The Saint, when Val Kilmer used his Nokia Communicator to transfer money while hanging out in Moscow? That cinematic moment showed me the way of the future.
Little did I realize how dramatically diminished Nokia’s presence would be in that future. At the dawn of the 3G era, they were the dominant handset maker. But business was becoming increasingly competitive, with upstarts like Samsung and LG eating away at their profits. The world was awash in candy bar-style phones and basic Razr flip phones, and people were getting bored. Needing to sell higher-priced devices with greater margins, Nokia became one of the more daring companies when it came to phone design. They began developing phones that focused on cameras, and others that were all about watching and recording videos. Continue reading “What Folding Phones Say About State of SmartPhones”