One prediction of the future of smartphones:

Two pedestrians use iPhones as they walk in Union Square in San Francisco, California.

Walk around any phone store or browse online, and you’ll find rows of similar looking rectangular shaped smartphones. Compared to some of the crazy designs pioneered by Nokia, Ericsson and the rest in the early days of mobiles, things look pretty tame now.

It’s also an age when sub-$200 smartphones are powerful enough for most people and even flagship phones from the likes of Apple and Samsung don’t look radically different from their predecessors.

My musings come ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which kicks off this week. It’s usually the place for the latest cutting edge smartphones, but this year looks flat. Samsung has delayed their next device – the Galaxy S8 – after the exploding Note 7 saga, and rumors and leaks so far have not suggested anything surprising. Though the Nokia 3310 could be making a return. Has the mobile phone world run out of ideas?

It’s easy to dismiss smartphone innovation as dead. In fact, one in two people think the smartphone itself will be obsolete within five years, according to an Ericsson survey of 100,000 people globally, released at the end of 2015.

Yes, smartphones will be dead in five years but not in the sense of being wiped out. Instead, innovation will come from new areas, not hardware, and the way we interact with devices will change. Smartphones as we know them today will be dead.

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