The tech industry is looking to replace the smartphone — and everybody is waiting to see what Apple comes up with – CNBC

The tech industry is looking to replace the smartphone — and everybody is waiting to see what Apple comes up with – CNBC

Tim Cook (left) and Steve Jobs in 2010.

Kimberly White | Getty Images

In 2007, Apple unveiled the iPhone.

Apple didn’t invent the smartphone — companies like Palm and Blackberry had been selling them for years. But the iPhone introduced a totally new way to interact with computers. The always-on internet connectivity, finger-friendly touch screen, and interface based around clickable app icons all seem commonplace now. But at the time, the whole package felt revolutionary.

The smartphone was a seismic shift for the technology industry, creating entirely new business models — apps became $100 billion companies — while replacing everything from digital cameras to in-car GPS systems.

But smartphone sales have dropped two calendar years straight for the first time, according to Gartner. Smartphones are old news.

The tech industry’s next bet is a series of technologies usually called augmented reality (AR) or mixed reality. The vision usually involves some kind of computer worn in front of the user’s eyes.

Users will still be able to see most of the real world in front of them — unlike virtual reality, which completely immerses the user in a computer-generated fantasyland, augmented reality layers computer-generated text and images on top of reality.

Industry watchers and participants think that Apple has a good chance to validated and revolutionize AR like it did with smartphones. Apple has been prototyping headsets for years, and recent reports from The Information and Bloomberg suggest that Apple
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