What It Takes to Win in the Mobile Industry

Let’s look back to the good old days of 2007. That was the year that a new smartphone king took throne: the Apple iPhone. The iPhone put every other phone to shame including the Palm and the Blackberry. It simply had many “firsts” that were successfully implemented, including a capacitive multi-touch glass display and a great user interface that was meant to be easily manipulated with a finger. Back in 2007 (and even 2008) it was a known fact that the ultimate smartphone was the iPhone. There were better phones for email and better phones for durability, but the iPhone was revolutionary.

But look at 2013. What is the best phone? Is it the Samsung Galaxy S3? The HTC DNA? The Motorola Droid RAZR HD? Or is it still the iPhone? The truth is, in this day-and-age, the best phone must have the thinnest chassis, fastest processor, and highest resolution display. These simple evolutions occur on a daily basis. Every week, there is news of a phone that is .2 mm thinner than the previous “world’s thinnest smartphone” Currently, the smartphone industry is spending all of its energy trying to catch-up or at best get to the finish line first, because the company that releases the next phone with a new, best-in-class processor, will be the go-to phone for two weeks, when the technology becomes commonplace. Sadly, this mindset removes all possible sparks of innovation and any possibility of truly winning in the mobile space.

If smartphone manufacturers actually wants to win consumers, they need stop playing around and actually innovate. This means they need to do what Apple did in 2007: add technologies to a smartphone in a way that no one has ever seen before. If a new technology is innovative enough, like a flexible display with a unique implementation (not just the technology), that smartphone will beat every other smartphone on the market in the long term. Soon, another company might release an indestructible phone and now, rather than comparing two phones to see which one is thinner and faster, we are comparing entirely different products that the consumer can choose from. And thanks to truly innovative technologies, that flexible phone will stay at the front of the store for months or even years no matter what, as long as it is still seen as innovative.

Let's hope that 2013 is the year that smartphone manufacturers change their ways and actually begin innovating. We know for a fact that Apple spends a large sum on R&D and Motorola is entering the innovation game with their new ATAP Innovation group. I am cheering for all teams in this race, as these innovations will benefit both the OEMs and consumers.