Long time ago (well, 10 years ago – a whole age in the mobile devices market) hand held mobile devices were just simple mobile phones – some didn’t even have a phone book, as their integrated memory was barely enough for storing the firmware needed to make telephone calls. With the time and the development of microelectronics the integrated memory began to rise, integrated processors went up in speed tens and hundreds of times – some old phones’ proccessors were with as low frequency as 10MHz, nowadays more and more devices pass the 1GHz mark.With the higher available processing power came the idea of the smartphone – device with operation system – pretty much very small personal computer, that you can hold in your hand.
Such development was normal, and devices began to cost more and more, as more functions were integrated. That was the time when only 2 or 3 major companies existed in the niche, while most other big players ignored it, thinking that such small screens are unusable for normal work and fun, or that the lack of normal keyboard is major drawback, and so on. Golden profits were taken by the existing companies – RIM (BlackBerry’s manufacturer), for example, made a fortune in these days, and prices seemed to be fixed fairly high for what the hardware could offer in day to day use.
These days the competition on this market is fierce, many companies try to get a cut of it – giants as Sony, Motorola, Nokia, Apple and Google try to make the best selling smartphone, the one with best OS, with best internet browser and so on. This inevitably leads to falling prices, as it is predicted by economical theory – more sellers equals lower price, so we can only be glad.
But now much more interesting tendency is observed. The focus of the new generation is not on the hardware. Today young people do not seek highest processor speed or amount of RAM available. What matters now is the online services support – for example social networks support, or Skype access, or GTalk and so on. More and more profits are expected by the additional services offered online, or by online advertisements and other sources of “after sale” revenue for the phone manufacturer – look at what’s happening on the iPhone’s AppStore – millions of dollars are made every week.
With this type of development the hardware will inevitably become cheaper and cheaper, as alternative sources of income become more important, so we can expect in few years time the phone you want will be almost free, but connected, and locked, to certain online services offered by the manufacturer, so even more money will be made these days. Sad thing is that the race of the hardware specs may soon be over, as no interest will exist in hardware development, once it has enough processing power for everyday use (once it can play HD content, which in truth is pretty useless on the small screen, and 3D games, this will be enough for most users), its development will slow – or may be today’s mobile devices will transform into something different? Only time will tell.