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The Next Big Thing
Smartphone commoditization is here. So what now?Lots of good phones at about the same price with about the same features. Find out why cost may be the next big thing in smartphone innovation.
-Have you noticed there aren't really any bad smartphones anymore? -Again, the FaceTime camera is a bit better, the battery life is a bit better, and the LTE worldwide coverage is a bit better. -This phone is actually only slightly smaller than the HTC One original. You can see that there are still aluminum accents, and the body looks really beautiful. It still has a premium feel. -It's fairly slim, which makes it a bit easier to hold, and it has the same polycarbonate design that you'll find on a wealth of Nokia's previous Lumias. -Smartphone commoditization is definitely here. Lots of great phones with about the same specs and prices doing a lot of the exact same things for you. -The entire back and sides are made from a single part. And the front is one glass multi-touch surface. -The display features 445 pixels per inch. And like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, it has a 1920x1080 pixel resolution. -The iPhone 5S' biggest party trick that you'll wanna show off to your friends is probably Touch ID. -It reads your fingerprint at an incredibly detailed level. -Really, what you're looking at here is an iPhone 5 that's been redesigned. -It comes in three metal finishes-- silver, gold, and a new space gray. -One of the most interesting new features is a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone. That's what this black box is right below the camera module. Like the HTC One that came before, there is a 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera on the back. -Around the back, you'll see the same polycarbonate design that you'll find on a lot of Nokia Windows phones. If you've got quite small hands, this probably isn't for you, but it does give you loads of [unk] for watching videos and checking out your photos. -Most of the sales and all of the profits in the smartphone biz have now coagulated around two players-- Samsung and Apple. And you'll notice, those two really just sort of checkmate each other regularly. They've also struggled to a degree with their latest big launches-- iPhone 5c, Galaxy S4. Not quite as red hot as was expected before they hit the market. What does this mean to you? -With a price of just $99. -Now, first and most obvious, this is keeping pressure on prices to keep them down or flat, as well as pressure on features to give you more for the money you spent last time you got a phone. However, that combination plus a little slowing of consumer's appetite to upgrade less than they used to has been bringing down what's called average selling price in the marketplace. You're gonna see phone makers drive harder to do something, anything, to stay relevant in the market or just stay in the market. Look at curved screens, gesture control, 40-megapixel cameras, fingerprint scanners and phone-smartwatch combos as recent examples. But notice none of those have had the seismic weight of the arrival of the iPhone on '07 the rise of Android in 2010. It's getting really hard to catch a big wave. As we saw in the hay days of home stereo, 35-millimeter photography, home video, we all kinda geek out on the gears, specifically for the first, you know, five, seven, ten years. Then, we get back to the content, pretty quickly, on devices that are good enough, reliable, fairly priced. On the downside, this could also mean less choice in some ways. Devices like BlackBerry's, Moto Droids with sliding keyboards, Mini Windows phone are all on something of a bubble about being here tomorrow or not. Bottom line, watch the low-cost sector. The smart money knows this is where the huge growth potential is and will be in the smartphone market. In a way, price might be the next big thing in smartphones. All of this is happening because the smartphone has captivated our minds, and our wallets, and our time like almost nothing in recent digital history. It truly is a tech product like no other.