The next disruptor in mobile technology

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearables. They’re growing like crazy. Even with all of this activity in mobile, it’s not clear what the next disruptor may be nor where it will come from.

Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

It's safe to say there hasn't been a faster growing technology segment than the mobile tech space. There has not been one as disruptive to both the industry and society, either. Be that as it may, thoughts turn to what the next disruptive force might be and which company will introduce it.

Disruptive products and technologies have driven the rapid growth of the mobile space. The Palm Pilot was an early disruptor that exposed millions to mobile technology while creating a viable app ecosystem. That led to a robust accessory ecosystem the size of which had not been seen before.

There’s no question the iPhone was a disruptor of epic proportions in the mobile space. It single-handedly jump-started the smartphone industry and has touched people the world over.

The iPad did the same, and while tablets had existed for years, the first from Apple created an entire industry. Whatever tablet you use you can thank the iPad for disrupting things to get everyone’s attention.

Now we have Google and its partners trying to disrupt mobile tech with wearables. They tried first with Google Glass and that didn't work so now they are trying with smartwatches . This isn’t likely to happen as they are missing a major criteria for disruptors — great implementation of a feature or set of features that people want in a compelling form factor.

So what’s the next disruptor in mobile tech going to be? Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon that would remotely qualify. There have been many recent attempts to shake things up, NFC springs to mind, but they haven’t caused a ripple, much less disrupted things.

Whatever it will be it must be technology that stands alone, either a device or software that radically changes the way things are now. A single feature won’t do it no matter how innovative it might be, as those tend to simply become a part of something else. That doesn’t shake things up.

It’s logical to think the next big disruptor in mobile will come from one of the big four: Apple, Google, Microsoft or Amazon. They collectively have the biggest stroke in the mobile space and spend enough to give us the Next Big Thing. The problem is, nothing they are working on that we know about is truly different.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the next disruptor in mobile is in healthcare. This would impact the mobile segment while having a profound affect on society. That would certainly shake things up. The big players in mobile are already scrambling to bring personal health monitoring to mobile, but to really disrupt things it will require bringing advanced functions to healthcare providers in addition to the personal stuff.

Mobile healthcare is already blooming but it’s missing a crucial piece on the patient side to make it all work seamlessly. Bringing healthcare providers directly to patients, globally and no matter the distance, would be a wonder to behold. I hope the next disruptor in mobile is able to do that.

Of course, the big players in mobile are doing things behind closed doors so maybe we’ll be surprised. Perhaps a new gadget and/or functionality will blow us away, and shake up the mobile space. It’s hard to imagine what it might be without hints from inside. Perhaps someone will leave a disruptor in a bar.

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