Definition of ‘Commodity’
A basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type. The quality of a given commodity may differ slightly, but it is essentially uniform across producers. For some weeks now, I have been thinking about how smartphones have become commodities. However, someone beat me to the press.
Over at TechSuplex, SuperSanusi (I need a super hero name like that; “Mister Mobility” is so plain) has an article that spells out some of the stuff that I have been thinking about in recent times. His post is titled Smartphones have gotten boring. Bang! Spot on. Some excerpts:
I think the reason is that we have gotten to a saturation point of sorts. We are getting to the point where hardware is much less of a differentiator than it used to be; want the coolest camera? Every hardware maker can order the same camera sensors on the iPhone 5s from Sony. Processors? Every OEM can get the top of the line chip from Qualcomm…
Even with software, the differences aren’t so much except for a few specialised needs (e.g. banking services, health services, etc). There is almost nothing you can’t do on all the major smartphone OSes today, they obviously each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but at the basic level, they will do almost everything you need off a smartphone today.
Yes; smartphones have become commodities. They are mostly the same with little bits of differentiators here and there. Boring. It is tough reviewing mobile devices today. What I do now is highlight the differentiators and mention any grievous failings of each device. Anything outside of that means one would basically regurgitate the same thing for each review. Boring.
Martin Nkem, another mobilista, told me he feels the same way too. So it isn’t just Sanusi and Mo. A new flagship is announced and it is basically last year’s flagship with some minor differences. And this is not just Apple. This is every manufacturer. The industry has hit a plateau. Whether its feature phones, smartphones or tablets, it is mostly more of the same across brands.
What to do? It is time for people to stop obsessing over what device they bought or use, and instead get into using them more. You know, like really, really use them. Hopefully, someone will show up and disrupt the industry again, and start a new flurry of excitement that we can get high on. To be honest, I need my fix.
Do go read SuperSanusi’s article, Smartphones have gotten boring.