Why Phones => 4K Televisions

It comes as no surprise to you that smartphones are taking over the world. Alexander Graham Bell’s invention is swiftly achieving total domination, 138 years after its invention. Of course, today’s smartphones are a far cry from “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” But I digress.

I offer you a data point demonstrating how firmly smartphones are in charge: Specifically, I offer the premise that smartphones will be a primary factor that drives adoption of 4K/Ultra HD televisions. That’s right—your phone will persuade you to buy a new TV.

The argument is pretty simple, actually. The camera modules in smartphones and tablets (like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3, LG G Pro2, and Sony Xperia Z2) are enjoying another huge upgrade, specifically to 4K quality. Still don’t see the connection to your TV? Picture this: You’ve got a new smartphone with a killer 4K video camera, and you are shooting 4K video like crazy, and you’re damn right, Skippy—you want to watch those videos on a 4K big screen. Whisper “Nearest Best Buy” into Google Maps and make it so. And don’t discount the video veracity of these palm-friendly 4K cameras. They are much more than gee-whiz gizmos. The picture quality they provide is outstanding and in fact looks terrific on 4K televisions. Still not convinced that phone cameras are a force to be reckoned with? Tell that to the manufacturers of point-and-shoot cameras.

Another data point: technology adoption often engages in a chicken-and-egg scramble. Content creators don’t want to invest in content until there is sufficient consumer hardware to warrant the investment. And consumer’s don’t want to invest in the new hardware until there is sufficient content to warrant their investment. Deliciously, smartphones with 4K cameras slices though that Gordian Knot; consumers will provide their own content, which encourages them to also buy the new hardware. You rarely see that kind of synergy in consumer electronics.

Yet another data point: while the TV world struggles to get a toehold on higher-res, it appears that smartphones are hurtling into it. As I described here, 2K phone screens will soon be commonplace on higher-end phones. Do you really need 2K on a phone? Probably not. Can most people even see the quality difference? Maybe not. But that won’t stop people from wanting it for their next 6-month-cycle phone upgrade. In any case, it’s another example of how phones are leading the way in technology. Oh, and tablets will start getting 4K screens next year.

The bottom line is this: as more and more people have phones with 4K cameras and 2K screens, those 1080P TVs at home will look more and more old-fashioned. Throw in the practical need for something to view the 4K movies on, and 4K TVs begin to look attractive. In short, phones could be a driving force in the adoption of 4K televisions.

Of course, as much sense as this makes, it’s also just a little crazy. Smartphones were supposed to be all about content consumption, not creation. Besides, the really expensive high-tech was supposed to appear in the home first, then trickle down to mobiles. But now it’s the mobiles that are in charge. Total. World. Domination.

jmilton7043's picture

...an astute observation. I, for one, hope you are correct in you prediction.