The Future of Smartphones

The Future of Smartphones

by Geoff Keston

Docid: 00018047

Publication Date: 2212

Report Type: TUTORIAL


The ceaseless evolution of smartphone technology pressures organizations
to continually update their security, training, monitoring, and
application development processes. And on top of keeping pace with
fast-moving growth, organizations must also think long-term — mobile
technology development over the next ten years will change how corporate
employees work, alter consumer buying habits, and create new security

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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For enterprises, adopting new smartphone technology requires planning.

Related Faulkner Reports
Choosing Mobile Devices for
the Enterprise Tutorial
Enterprise Mobile Device
Management Tutorial

Transitions can be disruptive, especially if they are not done at the
right time. And there are many factors to consider — hardware, software,
service plans, and wireless protocols — each interacting with one another
in complex ways.

Monitoring the evolution of smartphone technology and the marketplace
will help organizations to better plan for these decisions over the next
year and the next decade. Enterprises face these choices in terms of both
how their employees use smartphones and what types of mobile-based
services they will offer to suppliers and customers.

Some aspects of the future of smartphones can be predicted reliably. Perhaps
the most prominent example is the coming deployment of the 6G protocol,
which will offer much greater performance and thus enable new and enhanced
uses of software and services. But other predictions are harder to make:
some analysts foresee radical changes in technology, such as devices that
project holograms, while many others expect incremental, albeit significant,


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The future of smartphones can be considered from multiple perspectives:

  • user habits
  • timeframes of changes
  • aspects of technology
  • the marketplace

These interconnected issues are discussed below.

User Habits

Smartphone use by corporate, school, and government agency employees is
ubiquitous, so all organizations, regardless of size or sector, must
consider how user habits will evolve. The processes to consider include:

  • supporting employees’ company-owned devices
  • supporting employees’ personally-owned devices
  • developing in-house software for use within the organization
  • purchasing equipment (e.g., the phones themselves) and services (e.g.,
    mobile plans)

In addition, many organizations deliver services via mobile devices, and
others also develop or distribute the hardware used in or by smartphones.
Organizations that are closely involved in the smartphone or
telecommunication industries have clear reasons to follow the future of
smartphones. But many other organizations across many industries use the
technology to, for example, sell products or exchange information with
customers and suppliers. Such organizations will benefit from keeping an
eye on smartphone evolution as it affects their processes for:

  • supporting customers
  • developing apps
  • storing and securing data

Timeframes of Changes

Organizations must consider the future of smartphones in the short-term,
such as to determine when a software patch is adequately tested, and over
the long-term, to make major purchasing and IT decisions about mobile
device selection and management.

Key decisions include:

  • Short-term
    • when to install software patches
    • when to upgrade to new models of phones
    • what the most pressing security threats are
  • Long-term
    • whether to switch employees to a new phone manufacturer
    • whether to switch to a new mobile service provider
    • which mobile device management software to use

Aspects of Technology

The evolution of smartphones influences — and is influenced by —
developments in other technology sectors:

  • hardware
  • software platforms
  • app development
  • app stores
  • wireless protocols
  • data security

The relationships among these sectors is complex and hard to predict.
Organizations might therefore be best served by narrowing their focus to
their specific needs and industry, mainly following developments that are
likely to affect them directly.

The Marketplace

To make plans for their use of smartphones, organizations need to study
the trends of businesses in several fields:

  • hardware manufacturers
  • operating system developers
  • app developers
  • mobile service providers
  • mobile device management and security tool developers

In addition, it is helpful to study the user habits of consumers and
enterprise employees. Some issues to consider include:

  • the apps users prefer for particular functions
  • users’ preferred communication methods (e.g., texting vs. chat vs.
  • how well users understand good security practices
  • what enterprise data employees exchange on their phones
  • what enterprise systems employees access via their phones

Current View

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To understand the future of smartphones, a good starting place is the
field’s current state.

Eighty-five percent of adults in the US own a smartphone, and well over
90 percent of adults between 18 and 49 do.1 There is thus a
vast market of consumers for hardware, services, and apps. Furthermore,
this data shows enterprises that their employees are familiar with
smartphones and thus are likely to use them for business functions. (Rates
of smartphone ownership increase with greater education and with larger

Depending on the demographics of their customers and employees, some
organizations may wish to study data such as that cited above from the Pew
Research Center in more granular detail. For example, the data show
differences in smartphone ownership among rural, suburban, and urban
Americans,2 and people with disabilities are less likely to own
the devices.3

In addition to studying the overall field, organizations can benefit from
studying their own employees, customers, and suppliers to learn about how
smartphones are being used, what problems may be occurring, and what
opportunities there are for taking better business advantage of the
technology. Data to collect includes:

  • the apps users prefer for particular functions
  • users’ preferred communication methods (e.g., texting vs. chat vs.
  • how well users understand security best practices
  • what enterprise data employees exchange on their phones
  • what enterprise systems employees use on their phones


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One consequence of the broad reach of mobile technology into so many
areas of people’s lives and work is that smartphones are influenced by
developments in many domains. For example, the policies of the leading app
stores, run by Google and Apple, significantly shape the mobile software
market because app developers need to conform to the policies of these
marketplaces and to meet the needs of their customers.4

Below are discussed some of the key dynamics that will shape the future
of smartphone designs and usage.


Changes in smartphone hardware can alter user habits and transform
marketplaces. Such a radical change occurred after Apple introduced the
iPhone in January of 2007. An example of the outer edges of current
predictions comes from an analysis published in 2022 suggesting that
change might be so rapid that “in 2030 [smartphones] could have
holographic display technologies which could render 3D images or videos
that would float above the device and be viewed from any angle without the
need to wear 3D glasses.”5

But other observers expect changes to be much less dramatic and view
predictions of radically new designs as a common mistake. “Nearly every
time somebody says that there will be a massive breakthrough in five to 10
years — be it self-driving cars or augmented reality — the safest bet is
that they’ll be making the same prediction five years later,” write Dieter
Bohn, Allison Johnson, and Chris Welch.6 One modest
prediction, from the co-CEO and president of technology consulting company
Mobiquity, Andy Norman, is that phones will make greater use of users’
location and other contextual information to present them with relevant
data and action options. “We ask smartphone users to swipe through too
many screens to order food or purchase a clothing item,” says Norman.7

(Readers interested in a potentially major change that appears to have
already made significant strides in research and development can, for
example, view Apple’s ArKit
Web site, which describes the company’s augmented reality technology.)

Smartphone Contracts

The potential changes to smartphone technology, some of which call to
mind science fiction, typically get the most attention from pundits. But
seemingly mundane changes to service provider contracts can also reshape
the landscape. Recently, the leading US providers have increased the
lengths of their contacts. Verizon and AT&T commonly use 36 months and
T-Mobile uses 24 months.8 This lengthening of typical contract
duration reverses a trend toward shorter agreements.

Wireless Protocols

New versions of the communications protocols used by wireless service
providers significantly increase bandwidth, creating new possibilities for
what types of applications can be used and how data can be exchanged.
Enterprises must factor these new possibilities into their planning, both
for how employees will use smartphones and for what types of
smartphone-based services can be offered to customers and business

The next iteration of the wireless service provider protocol is 6G, and
its increased speeds are expected to facilitate advancements in location
awareness and artificial intelligence technology.9


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A way to put predictions about smartphones into perspective comes from
looking at predictions made in 1964. In a BBC video now available on
YouTube, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who closely followed
advances in technology, suggested that “developments in communications”
would in the future enable people across the world to be “in instant
contact with each other, wherever we may be.”10 This
technology, he forecast, would enable people to work outside the office,
“independent of distance.” This prediction, rooted in the steady
development of technology and capabilities that were observable in
Clarke’s time, shows that some advancements are foreseeable. Therefore,
organizations that understand the likely future of smartphones will have a
competitive advantage over those that don’t.

But another part of Clarke’s prediction provides a cautionary note. He
suggested that the ability to communicate remotely might eliminate cities,
because people would no longer need to physically connect for business,
and thus that the world might become “one giant suburb.” This radical and
failed part of Clarke’s prediction shows that while we can often know much
about the future of technology, many other dynamics come into play, and
planning about smartphones or other technology must always factor in


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About the Author

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Geoff Keston is the author of  more than 250
articles that help organizations find opportunities in business trends and
technology. He also works directly with clients to develop communications
strategies that improve processes and customer relationships. Mr. Keston
has worked as a project manager for a major technology consulting and
services company and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and a
Certified Novell Administrator.

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