Please, stop it with the 'smartphone is dead' nonsense

If you think that the "smartphone is dead," I challenge you to show me what's going to replace it.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

What will come after the death of the smartphone?

Not a week goes by where I don't come across an article or think piece that proclaims, with total confidence and little in the way of data or evidence, that the smartphone is dead.


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"So-and-so is dead" is an older than dirt tech trope, and just in the two and a half decades that I've been watching tech I've seen it applied to countless technologies.

"The desktop PC is dead."

"The PC is dead."

"Mac is dead."

"Linux is dead."

"Windows is dead."

"The iPod is dead."

"Android is dead."

"Tablets are dead."

"Smartwatches are dead."

"Smartphones are dead."

The first thing that you may notice about these declarations is that, well, they didn't happen. Every one of those tech segments is alive and well. Sure, trends change, and there's an ebb and flow to what's popular or en vogue or "flavor of the month," but the reality is that it's hard to kill off something that's become mainstream.

Think about it. People still have radios and VCRs and cassette players and mechanical wristwatches and folding maps and film cameras and landlines and such, even though these technologies have been superseded by newer, and in most cases, cheaper, better, and more user-friendly technologies.

It's hard to kill things off.

Please, stop it with the "smartphone is dead" nonsense

That's not to say that things don't die, but it's easy to confuse individual products or brands with classes of products. I can rattle off a whole list of "dead tech" -- Microsoft Kin, Microsoft Zune, Amazon's Fire Phone, the iPAQ (no, not the iPad), Google Glass (at least the mainstream aspirations died), and Palm to name just a few.

And there are companies who have either gone or are no longer burning as bright as they once were -- Blackberry is one that springs irresistibly to mind -- but that's a different thing to "the smartphone is dead."

Bottom line, it's just not easy to kill things off. Yes, technology changes and evolves and goes in new and different directions, but that's an entirely different thing.

And coming specifically to the smartphone, what exactly is supposed to replace it?

The technology that's usually highlighted as the "smartphone killer" (anther lazy tech trope) is a VR/AR/mixed reality device, such as Microsoft's HoloLens.

Just last week, Alex Kipman, the main inventor of Microsoft's holographic headset, the HoloLens, was quoted as saying that "the phone is already dead. People just haven't realized."


So I'm expected to believe that a small, massively multifunctional device that can easily be slipped in and out of a pocket or handbag when needed, or popped up on a desk or cradle in the car for convenience, it going to be killed off by a pair of goggles that people have to strap to their faces?


Let's for a moment put aside the cost of these devices, and the computing power they require (the computing power will catch up over time). Let's also have selective amnesia in regards to Google's smartglasses project that died so hard that no other company has ventured down that path.

And let's also gloss over also the huge legislative and social norms changes that would need to happen to make it possible for people to wear AR/VR/mixed reality devices on their faces when out and about.

OK, with all that out of the way, what mainstream advantages does something like HoloLens have over the smartphone (answers in the comment section below, please)?

I'm not saying that AR/VR/mixed reality devices couldn't one day become "the next big thing," but to say that the smartphone is dead based on where this technology is currently at is either naïve, wild wishful thinking, or just plain hype.

So please, can we stop it with the "so-and-so is dead" nonsense? Please.

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