The western trenches of the smartphone war are empty. Pretty much every user has picked their side and gone home. It is time for the makers to start improving on features and add what users really want from their phones, rather than play out a pointless specification war.
Users Putting Up the White Flags
Brought a smartphone? Spent money on apps and entertainment within that ecosystem? Not likely to change the brand, are you? There is little that Apple or Google (under the Android umbrella) can do to their platforms to sway existing users to switch with the undecided few a mere statistic.
That stagnation is already starting to whiff. iOS 4 introduced FaceTime, a largely ignored treat; iOS 5 gave us Siri, something that most will ignore or treat as a gimmick, despite its potential. And the interim updates seem to be more about firefighting as these ever-more-complex devices become unpredictable in the wild.
The new Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0, gives users a facelift, a refinement of the known and adds further gimmicks such as facial recognition. Google Music is playing catch-up, and there is little else to get excited about. As an enthusiast, the big hole in their collective press releases for actual new stuff is a growing sore spot. There is little new to make the average smartphone user leap around the room like a child on Christmas Day.
Sure, Nokia's new Mango Windows Phone devices offer a different take on the interface, but currently lack the market share power to force others to change. BlackBerry may try something different, but figures from the analysts show sales splits congealing as the market solidifies and whatever happens in the coming years will only be of interest to the statisticians.
Running Nowhere Fast
All players can throw newer, faster, hardware and better screens at the marketplace as quickly as they like, but the fundamentals for the user won't change. So, most of us, apart from periodic upgrades, will be less and less keen on the hype-laden battles. Think of the PC wars when Intel and AMD, or ATI and Nvidia, were slugging it out -- it was fun at first, but then most of us moved on to something else in life and stopped worrying about not having the latest MegaDoom Processor Doodad installed.
While it's quite likely that voice control could become a de facto feature on all phones, most users will be quite happy with their little touchscreens. Remember the maxim 90% of the users use 10% of the features… that's a lot of expensive effort and waste going into the next generations of devices.