What's Next?

Some people think the smartphone's days are numbered.

Every product has a life cycle. In the case of technology, it can sometimes seem meteoric. A product is launched and quickly finds a place with the early adopters. It then becomes popular with mainstream users, but eventually, a product begins to age and falls out of favor. In this ZDNet article, that's what Steve Ranger thinks is starting to happen with the smartphone.

Ranger isn't saying that smartphones are dead, or even that they will disappear anytime soon. But, he does think that smartphones are starting to peak and they may have reached the limit of what they can do. They are the poster product for digital convergence - combining features of phones, cameras, GPS devices, address books, and so much more. The question is, what will take the smartphone's place? Ranger thinks the answer may lie in the realm of augmented and virtual reality. But, what form this will take and what new obstacles will arise are still up for debate.

Supporting Web Links

Discussion Topics/Activities
  1. This article provides a great lead-in for a discussion about digital convergence. Consider discussion what life was like before cell phones and computers. Since most students grew up with this technology, consider using an old movie or other literary work as an example. How might Romeo and Juliet have ended if everyone had smartphones?
  2. Divide the class into small groups. Each group should create a list of obsolete technology they still have in their homes (VCRs, floppy disks, film cameras, etc.). Do students or family members still use any of these items? Ask each group to share their list and compile the results. What devices or technology replaced the obsolete items?
  3. As an individual project, ask students to think about what the item that replaces the smartphone would be like. How would it be the same? How would it be different? What features would it need to have? There are no right or wrong answers; encourage students to be creative and create a presentation or write a brief summary of their thoughts.

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