C'mon, Smartphone Designers, Step It Up!

After several years of dramatic growth, high-end smartphone makers are struggling to find new approaches to stimulate demand. From quirky form factors to questionable features, smartphone "innovation" was disappointing at this year's 2014 International CES in Las Vegas. Even Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  )  iPhone and models based on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )  Android OS are making only incremental improvements.

Motley Fool analysts Rex Moore and Eric Bleeker discuss the problem from the floor of the world's largest consumer electronics show.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Rex Moore: What about the worst of CES?

Eric Bleeker: You know, across the past four or five years, everything's been about smartphones, tablets. The growth has been there. It has probably been the most dramatic field of growth in technology history.

It's totally boring now. You look at phones; they are black and white rectangles of varying sizes, and it shows, with what these companies are doing. Yeah, sorry about that!

Moore: Yeah.

Bleeker: But the thing about Apple even, on that front, it's all about the ecosystem that's being built off. I know that sounds hackneyed, but people are buying Apple for a reason. They like iOS, they're very built-in.

Getting people to want to buy a phone based on any kind of hardware changes is just a dead game. The LG G Flex ...

Moore: Curved screen?

Bleeker: The curved screen, 6" ... I could not get behind that. Huawei had a phone that charges other phones. What percent of the population is commonly carrying two phones?

You look at the kind of parlor tricks they're trying to use to stimulate demand on the high end; it's just essentially tapped out. You've got Apple playing against Android vendors who ... it's a very competitive market, and that's tough.

You see Samsung struggling right now for a reason. Their most profitable areas, there's just not a lot of sex appeal there anymore.


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  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 10:07 PM, eldernorm wrote:

    Its funny how bloggers get to define innovation. Its never whats going on right now, but they will know it later. Trust me. :-(

    I am sure the first phone to add teleportation or anti-gravity will be allowed some innovation, but then others will say that Star Trek thought of it first so..... no I guess no vote of confidence.

    Hey bloggers, where is YOUR innovation. ?????

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 11:24 PM, normgarry wrote:

    The last thing that the market is waiting for is Apple to unveil larger screens for iPhone. After iPhone gets larger screens the next move will be for Samsung and other android makers to put 64 bit CPUs in their phones and more memory.

    I'm thinking that within a year or two we may see 64-bit, 5"screen phones with more than 4 GB of memory.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 11:24 PM, normgarry wrote:

    Curved screens for phones don't make sense and they certainly aren't helping sell televisions. Curved screens look strange depending on your viewing angle.

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