"Complacent" Apple to be a follower in future smartphone market, claims new report

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Apple is losing its reputation as a smartphone innovator in the wake of new software and devices from Amazon and Google, a new report has claimed.

ABI Research said the handset industry is on the verge of reinvigorating a "stagnant" market, with artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and gesture control coming to the fore.

The "post smartphone era", as the research house has dubbed it, will lead to Amazon and Google leading the market. While Apple's iPhone started the boom of the smartphone era when it was first launched in 2007, the company has been accused of "complacency" by ABI Research.

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Research Director David McQueen said: “This next wave of innovation in the smart device ecosystem will be led by Google and Amazon, as their apparent strength in major growth sectors, notably computer science, allows for a more flexible approach to next-generation user experiences that are essential for creating immersive experiences and brand-new ways of human-to-machine interactions.

“Without having the heavy burden of legacy systems and hardware, these web-scale companies are in a good position to lead the market into the post-smartphone era.”

The research house described Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone manufacturer as "followers/advocates" in the years ahead as they were dubbed as not being flexible enough to drive future innovation. This is in spite of Apple and Samsung pushing its own digital assistant and smart home products.

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Their current strengths as incumbent and dominant players will hinder them in future as their smartphone legacies will reduce flexibility. However, ABI noted their influence on handsets of the future should not be underestimated, given their brand strength and market shares.

In order to stay relevant, smartphone manufacturers and OS companies should spend big on technology and staff as they look to create the next generation of handsets, it added.

McQueen said: “The “follower/advocates” companies often follow an evolutionary approach to innovation, partly to protect their existing investment, as they fear disrupting their current market leadership, and partly because they find it harder to embrace new and more disruptive approaches to technology."