The smartphone market is sure where the entire cellular market seems to be headed, but once you reach a saturation point with this technology, where do you go next? For the time being, speed is certainly being worked on with the WiMax and LTD initiatives to bring us faster mobile broadband. Applications are being developed at a blistering speed, and the operating system battlefield is seeing a bit of a shake up with Palm up for sale. So what are the current companies to do to gain even more customers and converts from the standard phone market? Apparently it is to make more job specific, or niche phones.
The iPhone, Android, BlackBery and even, yes, WebOS, has have pretty much locked up the application development front, and while there are tons of social media/networking apps out there, they all do feel like add-ons layered on top of the phones as opposed to a part of the phone itself. That is where other phones are trying to step in, most notably Microsoft with the Windows Phone 7 and Kin 1 & Kin 2. While these handsets are still phones at their hearts, the integration with social services is unmistakable.
While the Kin 1 & Kin 2 are clearly directed at more casual users (i.e. teens) than the average person who reads a tech blog, you still have to wonder how much of an impact these devices will make in the marketplace. Are they going to have enough of a “cool” factor to get their intended target demographic to give up their desire for iPhones and other devices with a slick physical look? It isn’t always about the brains of the device, but how it compliments ones overall physical appearance.
Then the last question is do the casual users really want their phones to be overtaken by the social aspects? Is this really the main thing they are concerned about when looking into a phone? Have they gotten so used to the customizable aspects of other phones that they don’t want to give them up just to make sure that Facebook is feeding them information in a constant stream? Can they give up the other aspects a smartphone offers them just to be all social?
Like so many products that are coming out right now breaking into new niche markets, only time will tell how popular these really will be with users. Are manufacturers betting too much on a new market when it has yet to prove itself?
What say you? Are these phones going to be able to find enough of a market to be sustainable?