The inspiration for the earliest flip out handsets came from Star Trek. The famous detective Dick Tracey used his watch as a video phone and Maxwell Smart wore his phone on his foot. In those days we looked at fiction and some of what we saw become fact. So, what are we seeing today that is likely to end up in the handsets of the future?
I'm not tipping that we'll have comms links integrated into our bodies but I can see the day when we don't have a handset for making calls at all. We'll have mobile phones that are smaller than Zoolander's that actually fit in our ears - secret agent style. To make a call, we'll just touch it and it will have voice activated dialling that really works. For numbers we don't know or haven't stored, directory assistance will actually work. OK, that last part was pure fantasy rather than considered speculation.
Like today, where there's great diversity in handset shapes and sizes, we'll also have access to smartphones with plenty of local storage and networks that are fast enough with enough coverage to deliver video on demand no matter where we are.
It might be a bit cliched but we will have some wearable tech. Ever since Nokia released the 5110 with its removable cover, the mobile phone moved from tool to accessory. It's inevitable that we'll see non-geeks wearing wrist-watch phones connected to wireless headsets.
Mobile phones will have better software. HTC is leading some of this with their person-centric operation. Rather than use the phone by choosing which application you want use, the interface is geared around who you want to interact with. However, Apple's application-centric approach is probably part of the picture as being able to load more software is a great way to extend the phone so that it does what's important to you rather than what the manufacturer thinks is important.
So, who will be the players in the next generation mobile phone market? Trying to look ahead 10 years, it's hard to imagine any of today's major players like Motorola, Apple, Sony Ericsson, HTC, Nokia, Microsoft and RIM being gone. But I can see them all fighting harder to retain market share. It's inevitable that someone new will come along and offer something different. Perhaps that will come from a company that already exists. HP's recent acquisition of Palm might be a sign of a future. HP has some experience in the smartphone business so perhaps they'll come up with something special.
MobileModo is Gizmodo Australia’s look at the rise and rise of the mobile phone, from Bell’s landline to the ubiquitous mobiles of today.