Have we reached a place where cell phone technology advancements have slowed?

(i.e. – are phones so good that it will be hard for manufacturers to take milestone leaps forward?)

Is the technology underpinning the cell phone market stagnating? It might be.

While smartphone market penetration is now at more than 1 billion units and growing rapidly, and almost 90% of the vast global population now have cell phones, cell phone improvements for the past two or three years have at best been very much incremental. Quantitative improvements in processor speed, number of cores, display pixel density, etc., have over-shadowed any kind of qualitative jumps in the capabilities of smartphone technology.

Sure, smartphones are getting better with every year, but are there that many more things you can do with a smartphone from 2013 than with one from 2010 – or are you simply able to do the same things more quickly and efficiently?

Looking at the smartphone lineups in shops these days, I can’t help but notice that the differences between them are marginal at best.

But there might be a silver lining, for the stagnation of today doesn’t have to define the future, and as the market for smartphones becomes saturated in developed economies where consumers have more disposable income, the pressure to create a new and revolutionary product in order to differentiate yourself from other manufacturers grows with every week. Especially if cell phone manufacturers want consumers with working smartphones to put down a hefty sum for an upgrade.

My thoughts? Those prototype flexible screens may very well be the next milestone leap forward, as when the iPhone came out and revolutionized smartphones.

Flexible screens would open up an entire host of new smartphone designs, with Samsung’s combination folding tablet/phone looking particularly exciting. Without the use of clunky glass displays, smartphones and tablets would also become lighter, more compact, and much more durable.

And there are still major ways in which smartphones can be improved in functionality. For instance, projectable keyboards could in many ways put tablets and smartphones on par with their bigger keyboard-addled cousins. At the same time, a screen projector could transform a piddly four inch display into a 21 inch screen to rival desktop PCs. Combine the two technologies and you have a portable desktop computer that can fit in your pocket, but has a full-size screen and keyboard.

It might seem a little like science fiction now, but in truth much of the technology already exists, and business travelers, bloggers, and tech geeks would relish at the opportunity to have a full-size computing platform in their pocket. Wouldn’t you?

Oh, and then there’s something else that might come along and completely revolutionize the industry. If all the hurdles can be overcome that is.

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