The smartphone is dead, long live the smartphone!

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Questions I never asked John Sculley

In less than three months, we have seen over four device vendors launch operations across Africa and the emerging markets with low spec affordable Android powered smartphones. The latest entrant was yesterday’s launch by respected ex-Apple CEO John Sculley.

According to him, Obi Mobiles is a smartphone designed in Silicon Valley for the emerging markets. I was so happy I to have a hands-on experience and the phone is great. I have had an opportunity of reviewing an Infinix and am waiting for an OLE smartphone to come to my desk. A few weeks ago I had a Wiko and it was great. The Lumia’s and Samsung’s have also been great. I have never used an iPhone and a Tecno so I can’t speak about them.


Sculley said the emerging markets are buying more phones in two years than their counterparts in developed markets partly due to the carrier contracts and we think partly due to low quality models we buy in the emerging markets.

Though the consumer data is right to the dot, the smartphone has had its time. This is the tipping tipping point. And now it’s time to let go of everything mobile and the stupid phrase mobile-first to digital-first.

Africa and the emerging markets have been known to leapfrog into new disruptive technologies-though the only true example we have is mobile money which was built by British engineers.

Battery life

With a poor battery life, four hours at the max on 3G, and expensive voice and data bills we keep asking ourselves why can’t someone kill the f**king smartphone!

With the advent of fibre optic cables, the growing rural electrification programs in emerging markets and Africa and the introduction of cheap wearable devices might just help this market to jump from feature phones into the internet of things before smartphones take over. The feature phone was king because of its 36 hour battery life and a worker in the emerging markets would go throughout the day and get back home with his phone still on to the trust of his wife and joy of his family.

Ten years later, this worker has got a 3-hour battery life smartphone which goes off every time he delves into apps. With an everyday excuse of low charge, a cheap smartwatch which can accommodate all those apps plus essential SMS can be a great alternative. Or any Google-glass like wearable.

Affordable Wearables

The cheapest Android Wear will help this man keep up with the family and the Kardashans. Though few Apple Watches might ship to Africa, there will still be Android Wear vendors getting everyone online.

Shortly after smartwatches, Internet of Things will allow users to ditch their smartphones and communicate with their families though wall clocks, fridges, bulbs, doors and even kitchen sinks. A family can keep track of each other through their family fridge, microwave or even their TV not through Skype or Firefox Hello or Google Hangouts but apps that devs are building to connect home appliances, cars, offices among others.

Kill the f**king smartphone!

The Office fridge will be turned into a telephone booth where workers can go to sip ice cold soda and as well use their codes to SMS their daughters at school or their business partners on the other continent.

With the ability to connect via basically anything in my office, car, and coffee shop wtf do I need to move around with a smartphone or tablet for. Right now its possible to rad emails and call from a smartwatch and a few expensive fridges, but in a few years those devices will be as cheap as smartphones have become, an everyday thing.

From democracy to no ownership

Elon Musk would have sold to Google or Apple and there will be an electric driverless car or Uber might be the one to first do it. Like in the old days, people will no longer own houses but AirBnb would help them find where to stay tonight as a family, get an Uber car to work and school then book a connected stay-tonight. This is not news-cooking was an everyday thing before restaurants took over then online food delivery apps took over from restaurants.

You won’t own anything, not even clothes or mobile phones. You will need a code to make a call on your fridge, the carriers would be long dead or all offering VoIP services, carrier contracts would be there and to those who need mobile phones for fun they will pay per unit of use and dump them where they found them. The password will be your credit card or some biometric, voice, or face recognition thing. Forget Yahoo’s launch of a password thing yesterday-that’s so 80’s.

So our question is simple.

Pay-per-use is the new tech socialism

With all this future into the Internet of Things why would someone want to reinvent the wheels than invest in existing brands or launch something completely revolutionary. Building affordable smartphones and building affordable personal computers was something Steve Job and Steve Woz did and Samsung and Xiaomi picked it up and Google tried with the Nexus instead of killing the smartphone with their Nest acquisition.

Someone building a home automation software or a Home Management System will be the guy we will turn to. Someone who will kill ownership to a scale bigger than Uber and AirBnB to comsumate our lives will be the Nikola Tesla we want.

Internet of things will kill affordable smartphones and affordable personal computers to a place where we own nothing but pay per use. That’s the tech socialism the world is headed. And this will begin in emerging markets where poverty has forced people not to own things but to share. People have also been brought up in communities and the sachet economy-pay per use is already taking effect with services like M-KOPA Solar, electricity tokens, water tokens among others.

NFC, yes, those smartwatches can have NFC and why do you need to pay at the POS when your fridge can order for and pay its own shopping and so will your wadrobe order for and pay for laundry or a total overwhaul depending on that trip or meeting you are having. If you won’t order takeaway, you can might as well have your dinner reservations made by Evernote or straight from your calendar or fridge app. Payments will be as streamlined and no one will ask you for your payment card or mobile money as long you sign up for a service just like your Uber cab does.

Market forces not regulation

Tech socialism will not be a choice for many and it won’t be govt-led. We think this will be orchestrated by market forces. The connected houses and offices will be so expensive to live in a for a month or they would be so cheap and worthless to own, to many technology will be this new savior against ownership taxes. Owning a car, a house or anything might be so expensive and insurmountable to anyone to own personally or the material things might be so cheap and worthless to any sensible being. This is not a minimalist thinking, this is due to demand and supply and behavior change caused by the era of the Internet of things.

Passing wave

So are phones a passing wave like the waves that have swept the world from millennium to millennium? Maybe smartphones are just for this generation and won’t be there in the next fifty years. Why we think so is that the new wave of Internet of Things is much stronger than the mobile wave. If users can access apps on fridges, cars, offices and houses, the establishment ought to worry. If software will eat the world, those guys making hardware have to be smart enough like Steve Jobs to control the whole ecosystem. Is there anything like evolutionary technology anyway?

Is there room for Charles Darwin in technology? Do technologies evolve in stages or co-exist like the mainframe did with the personal computers? Smartphones are doing with smartwatches, kingdoms with democracies? And Apes with human beings?

Was Darwin right when the iPod killed your music system and then got killed by streaming apps? Was TV killed by YouTube or made popular by it? Or should we take the doom of newspapers as testimony of evolution in technology or we it disruption?

Behold a new earth and a new heaven

Whether Android OS, or iOS or Tizen OS, Firefox OS or Intel OS or Kindle OS, or Moran OS or whatever OS takes over homes and offices and schools, work has to begin now to be the lifeblood of this new earth and new heaven.

This new earth and new heaven will have its merits and demerits.  Though we cannot speak on the future of textile manufacturers yet, we think clothing and fashion will be as disrupted as transport has been by Uber and housing by AirBnB. The danger is not laundry of the clothes or bedsheets as apps and robots will take care of that just as we are headed to robotic driverless cars. The dangers and opportunities will be in the monster terabytes of data per each of day of our lives and whoever will run this data will run our lives. One slight change in the data will affect one’s diet, one’s Uber arrival for example if your daily pick up is set straight for a year, will affect your area coordinates and food will never come or will erase your existence totally in all systems.

New dangers

Whether Amazon, Google, Apple or Dropbox will be there to run our data for the government we won’t tell but most of this firms work with the government anyway. Whether the government will be app based we don’t care but we highly think everything will be app based just as voting has become. But one thing we are sure of is that those apps won’t be on your smartphone but highly on those home appliances, office equipment or out there in the public park just and back to days of socialism bringing with it fridges in form of phone booths, Walls as TVs and Radios and two-way interactive p2p video walls than fitted cameras for CCTV.

Like radio waves, the atmosphere is already full of this commands already, we just need to know how make everything a receiver, even if it means having chip implants or wearables or smart homes.

Smartphones look so 90’s, why would someone launch a smartphone brand than jump on IoT?