The questions of what will they look like and who will control them are now answered. The next two decades, predicts Benedict Evans, a partner at venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, will be how smartphones redefine myriad industries from automobiles to ecommerce.
“The platform wars are over,” says Evans in an interview. Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS run on roughly 2.4 billion phones and 700 million tablets. Now that the second stage of mobile development is starting, the question becomes: “What can we build with this?”
Evans posited these questions when he spoke at Quartz’s The Next Billion conference in October. His presentation was posted publicly on Dec. 9.
“Every adult will have an interconnected supercomputer in their pocket,” he said then. Apps, social, cameras, and augmented reality are already in the mobile experience. These, along with new capabilities, such as motion sensors and general purpose machine learning, will open up totally new ways for people to shop, move around, and solve problems.
Evans sees retailers meeting the same the unhappy fate that greeted newspapers over the last 20 years: rising fixed costs, falling revenue, and unbundling of their profitable products as people’s buying habits shifted. Cars, says Evans, are tracing the evolution that met cellular phones this decade. With phones, we saw hardware turn into a commodity, software gain value, and the nature of the device almost unrecognizable from its original definition.
Welcome to the future.