We want same-day delivery. Restaurant ingredient checkers. Virtual play connectors that join us with far-away friends in real-time games. Digital assistants who analyze our performance and give advice. And in-stock detectors that will tell us if the product we want is in the store.
And we think our smartphones will deliver it all — within the next few years.
Of course, most of the elements above are already available in bits and pieces. But a new Ericsson study of 7,500 people in New York, London, Tokyo, Beijing, and Sao Paulo says that we expect them all, working together and easily accessible, within three years.
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It’ll all add up to better cities, according to Ericsson researcher Michael Bjorn.
“Mass demand for new ICT services can change city life beyond what we recognize in just three years,” Bjorn says. “Smartphone services related to shopping, eating out, and finding entertainment can drastically improve people’s satisfaction with life in cities.”
Within three years, not only will demand for actionable data that smartphones can provide have skyrocketed but the solutions available will have tripled, Ericsson says. Really, though, it seems to be a case of science-fiction author William Gibson’s famous quote: “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.”
The study says that traffic is the No. 1 source of dissatisfaction in cities — a full 47 percent of smartphone owners “expressed interest” in a personal navigator app that helps them find their way around whether driving, taking transit, or walking. Apparently, despite being one of the most popular apps on the planet, there are still people who don’t know about Google Maps. Or, even though 60 percent of all phones sold last quarter were smartphones, they still don’t have a phone capable of using it.
For those who do, the challenge for app makers — and smartphone manufacturers — is to put together all these services into a coherent and usable whole. That might be harder than building them in the first place.