ON JANUARY 9th 2007 Steve Jobs stood before an audience of some 45,000 people in San Francisco and announced a “revolutionary and magical product”: a slight slab of expansive black touchscreen with just a single button. Compared with the ugly, cluttered devices of the day, the iPhone was revolutionary. It was also hugely influential. A technicolour pageant of rival designs—the clamshell, the slide, the banana, the candybar and the BlackBerry—resolved into a uniform black mirror. And nearly every smartphone on the planet still looks like the device which Jobs revealed that day.
Nor is that similarity to be found just in hardware design. Nearly a fifth of smartphones sold last year operate on Apple’s iOS software. The rest run variations of Android, an open-source operating system provided by Google. Just two companies—Apple and Samsung—accounted for over 40% of smartphones sold in 2015, according to CCS Insight, a research firm. Huawei came in a distant third with 8%.
In this bland and uniform market some producers spy an opportunity. One of those is…Continue reading