Smartphones Are Over; Mobile Is Just Beginning

Power To The Smartphone

On September 9, 2015, the tech industry will gather in two distinct locations. A small (but mighty) group will be at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco attending an invitation-only Apple event. A much larger group (35,000+ professionals from all across the mobile landscape) will converge on the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas for CTIA’s Super Mobility 2015, the premiere mobile/wireless conference in the United States.

What Will We See?

The smartphone industry (Apple included) is suffering from innovation fatigue and the law of diminishing returns is fully on display. “New” smartphones will be slightly thinner with more cores, faster processors, more memory and more storage capacity. Most will have slightly better screens, cameras and battery life. On the other end of the spectrum, models aimed at BoP (bottom of the pyramid) markets will offer 100 percent of the features at ~50 percent less than last year’s prices. This is iteration (as predicted by the application of Moore’s Law and the law of accelerating returns), not innovation.

Smartphones Are Over!

In practice, Smartphones are over. The marginal increases in capabilities and features offer only marginal increases in productivity. This trend is likely to continue until the industry reinvents how we connect to our devices, and how the devices connect to each other. Are there Cloudphones (super cheap, dumb pieces of glass that display the results of cloud computing processes) in our future? Is there real connected clothing with real value coming soon? Will we see head-mounted sensors that don’t make us feel like Glassholes? Anything like this would not only be innovative, it would be mind-blowing! Sadly, we won’t see any of it on September 9th.

We know what’s coming from Apple. It’s a new iPhone that’s slightly thinner with a slightly faster processor. It may have more memory and more storage capacity, but it probably won’t. It will probably have a slightly better screen, a slightly better camera and marginally improved battery life. Siri may be slightly better and we’ll see some new Apple TV hardware, including a remote control that has the rumor mill in a frenzy. All nice to have, but certainly not “run out to the phone store and break your contract” need to have.

Real Innovation

To see real innovation, you’ll have to forgo Apple’s event and head to CTIA’s Super Mobility 2015. That’s where you will see what’s new, what’s next and where the industry is going. Sure, the handset makers will all be showing iterative versions of their respective handsets – that’s the nature of the handset business. But mobility is not just about mobile phones; it’s also about the new world of connected devices and the emerging ecosystems that will support them.

CTIA’s job is to create a platform that explores and celebrates the exponential and accelerating pace of technological advances in wireless technology, and that’s what you’ll see at the show – Networked Society, Future Mobile Networks, Enterprise IT, Software, Start-ups, Emerging Technologies and even (shameless plug) our Media Technology Summit (which we have co-located at Super Mobility 2015 because mobile is the story of 2015).

Thinking About Your Business and Mobile

Mobility is a goal. In fact, the mobile transformation of your business is the single most important thing you can do to improve productivity. That may sound like hyperbole; I assure you it is not. Almost everyone who wants a smartphone has one. Almost everyone who routinely uses a smartphone is on their second or third device. We are quickly maturing into a mobile-first society.

This is a case where you can use yourself as a focus group of “one.” Ask yourself a couple of questions: “Are you better at using your mobile device now than you were a year ago?” “Do you have a preferred map app, traffic app, music app or email app?” You do. And you probably have discussions with your friends and colleagues about their preferences. Today, you are either mobile first or very close to mobile first – so is everyone else. That includes your subordinates, your superiors and your customers.

No matter what business you’re in, you should be thinking about how you present on mobile. From recruiting, to workflow, to customer-facing programs, your business will be judged on how mobile-friendly it is. Google Search now favors mobile-friendly sites; so do people.

What to Do on September 9th

Even if you’re not headed to San Francisco or Las Vegas for one of the two big mobile confabs of 2015, you should use September 9th to immerse yourself in a data-driven, mobile-first crash course. It’s the perfect day to learn all you can learn about how wireless and mobile technology can improve productivity and, maybe more importantly, keep your business competitive.

It’s easy to talk about mobile strategy and subsequent execution in meetings. It’s easy to believe that it’s someone else’s job – “The mobile people have that covered, or is it the digital people, or IT … someone’s got this covered, right?” Maybe. Most likely, lots of people have it covered, because there is no part of your business that mobile does not touch! We all carry devices and we’re all connected. Pretty soon, some things will be connected, then lots of things and ultimately everything. Will you be ready? Come join us at CTIA Super Mobility 2015 and we’ll all get ready together!

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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