After the smartphone

Silicon Valley's search for the next big tech platform

The smartphone era is fading. What next?

Four years after Mr Steve Jobs introduced his iPhone, smartphones outsold all laptop and desktop computers worldwide. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Fifteen years ago Steve Jobs announced three new products: a music player, a mobile phone and an Internet communicator. As Apple's then boss gave his presentation, his audience slowly realised that the three products were in fact a single gadget: the iPhone. Cue applause, cue Apple's renaissance and cue a new era in technology as the smartphone overtook the desktop PC as the centre of personal computing.

Today even Mr Jobs might be surprised by how many uses have been found for his versatile device. The small screen has come to handle banking, networking, map-reading, gaming and much more. Apple and other phonemakers have been enriched not only by hardware sales (worth US$530 billion, or S$722 billion, last year) but by controlling what happens on the platform, from app stores (which raked in US$135 billion) to mobile ads (worth nearly US$300 billion).

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